Tag Archives: non fiction

ROMANCE NON FICTION: MY CLASSMATE by Huaming An | GBAMLOG.COM

In China every student is assigned a desk to share with another student. Only in college where students move from classroom to classroom each lesson is this not so. People must have stories about their classmates they have shared desks with. Whether you like or not, someone there sitting beside you from every single sunrise to sunset.

Approximately twelve classmates I met, who once shared a desk with me, occupy the memory of my youth, each of which is like a treasure of mine, sneaking into my dreams occasionally, dragging me back to that extraordinary time and bringing tears to my eyes unwittingly. Among them, swallow, a nickname of a girl, was the last one.

She was my classmate but not the one sitting beside me at the very beginning. One rumour related to her, which I never care about, caused the teacher, who was responsible for this class, to decide to exchange her seat. So, she became the one sitting beside me. We were not well known to each other before, since she was as ordinary as other classmates to my mind. However, she became the unique one as time went by.

Pink T-shirt coupled with a skirt comprised her style in summer, this is how she always appears in my mind. Sweet smile with white neat teeth but one slightly askew was her mark. Tranquilly, elegantly and gently the way she sat could make the entire world silent, quiet and peaceful. No one, deeply with their heart, could help stopping being attracted by her, at least for me.

She was my classmate. The more I kept contact with her, the more I was fascinated by her. Good at English but not physics, she played a role of English tutor to me. Including her, A few girls sitting around me, were considered to be “live dictionaries”, since I am too lazy to check any English word myself. No fighting between us, no imaginary boundary separating us in the middle of the desk, we had a harmonious relationship which was abnormal since a girl and a boy always quarrel at that age as it seemed hard for them to make an agreement.

The farewell was in a gorgeous day, sunshine, a little breeze and amiable temperature, but I am sad. A small pack of plum candy was the last gift I gave her. Just as a piece of cloud floating away, she had gone and disappeared. People yearning for light in a deep dark night, flowers longing for rain and dew in severe droughty weather, I am missing her.

Although thirteen years past, she is still vivid in my mind, as the things happened yesterday. With a book under arm, sneaking to the classroom from the back door and quietly sitting beside her, I repeat it in almost every dream. I am missing her.

Considering herself as an elder sister of mine, smiling in a little bit smirk way, careful doing everything but in fact faltering sometimes, she was an ordinary girl whilst distinctive and unique. She has held all my heart those many years, resulting in no place for any other person. She was a disaster for me at that age.

With strong will, I can fulfill every dream through hard work. But like a boxer fighting in cotton, or birds flying in water, no matter what a strong will I have, I have little chance to capture her. Regardless of how wonderful she is, how sweet her smiles, and how elegant her postures, she, from the very beginning, is just not my destination.

AGING ROMANCE TALE: IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT by Kevin Hughes. 

He got up to pee. He didn’t want to get up, he wanted to sleep. Old age and time dictated that sleep would have to take a back seat to sleeping in a puddle of pee. His normal good nature crept back in as the picture of him laying in a puddle of pee settled into his mind. He chuckled.

It was dark. That didn’t matter. He had done that late night walk to the bathroom several times a night (and quite a few during the day too) for almost the entire decade since he retired. It was as natural to him now as forgetting where his glasses were. And just as annoying.

It was the middle of the night. He gently closed the door to their bedroom. His comings and goings never wakened her…but light, well that would often make her stir a bit. Sometimes even bringing her to the edge of wakefulness:

“Honey, you okay?’

A sleep worried voice would come from her side of the bed.

“I’m fine, Honey. It’s okay. I just had to pee. I love you.”

“Okay.”

A moment later and he would hear her breathing slow down a bit…then that snore that was like white noise to him now. He would smile again. She thought she didn’t snore. Just him. That became his own secret – he would never tell her they both snored.

In the middle of the night, that snore often let him return to sleep the moment his head hit the pillow. It also made him reach over to her side of the bed, placing one of his vein ridden hands on top of her now plump hip. She would reach, even in her deepest sleep- to pat his hand. It wasn’t a conscious act anymore. It was a connection too deep for that.

It was the middle of the night- both of them reassuring the other with a touch, a few words, or the answer to: ”You Okay?” that they were together…and still alive. It was enough.

He made some tea. That brought yet another smile to a face that had smiled more than it had frowned for more than seventy years. When he was younger, tea, well tea would keep him awake. Now he would often sip a whole cup of tea while sitting in the dark – pee, and go back to bed. The whole time he was sipping the tea he would just listen to her snore, ride the waves of time back to their youth, or enjoy the quiet of the middle of the night.

Sometimes, she would wake up enough to go to the fridge to get water. He would watch her slip silently past him…thinking he was asleep in his recliner. Even half asleep, thirsty, and in the middle of the night, she cared about him. She wouldn’t want to disturb him, or wake him. As she passed by to return to the bedroom she would caress his foot lightly with one hand.

It was a ritual almost as old as their four plus decades of being together. He would whisper out into the darkness:

“I love you too.”

He didn’t need light to see the smile he knew that put on her face. He didn’t need his hearing aides in to hear the soft return:

“I love you, too.”

Sometimes, in the Middle of the night, the rain would pound against the roof. Both of them would have to pee at the same time. He liked those nights with the pounding rain and the mutual call of nature. For on those nights he would make tea for himself, hot chocolate for her and they would sit on their enclosed front porch and watch the rain fall.

Sometimes they would talk about the past. Sometimes the future. Sometimes about things they learned that day, or in the last week. Most times they just sat quietly sipping their drinks in the middle of the night. She would wear her Granny Pajamas that ground out any thought of sexuality but left her femininity intact. He would wear old boxer shorts and a robe missing the belt. He could care less that his lap was now occupied by a small rounded belly and not the flat stomach of youth.

It was the middle of the night, they were both old and gray, and the rain was making sure nobody was peeking onto their porch to comment on their aged bodies. If they were, well that thought made him smile too. So he told her about it. Her laugh was like wind chimes to him: delicate, sweet, flute like.

“You cold?”

“A little chilly, Honey.”

“We better go in then. That lightening is a bit scary.”

Two hands then reached for each other. Another quiet habit as old as their marriage and even a few years before that. Even in the middle of the night that habit never failed them.

“Did you lock the door?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

It might have been two AM, or three, or even four AM…somewhere in the middle of the night, when they let go of each other’s hands. Him to crawl into his side of the bed. Her to crawl into hers. A momentary and ritual fight over the sheets and blankets brought a smile to both of them.

In the darkness, with a backdrop of snoring from both sides, a hand reached to rest on a plump hip. A soft warm wrinkled hand covered it to pat it with loving security.

It was the middle of the night.

TRUE MYSTERY: WALLPAPER by Ken DaSilva-Hill | GBAMLOG.COM

This is an absolutely true story, and I am telling it for the very first time.
I used to work as a fine art restorer and conservator, but my remit was far wider than just paintings and sculpture. As a specialist in contemporary art and specialist materials, my work involved everything from art to zoology through mosaics, kinetic art, electronics and lapidary. Over the course of nearly forty years I either restored or conserved for the future many works by world famous artists, many objects now on display in the worlds greatest museums and palaces, and also worked for many VIP’s and celebrities from rock and rollers to royalty.
There are many unusual stories that I could tell from these years but the following is probably the strangest and most intriguing, so here we go.
I was once called in to estimate for performing some restoration work in an eighteenth century private mansion in a very famous London square, not so very far from Harrods in Knightsbridge. The house is a large and imposing Georgian building over five floors, the typical ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ home which, in it’s heyday, employed a Butler, Footmen, Chef and myrid other servants to look after a large rich family who lived in opulent circumstances. Two world wars had thined out the residents of the house however, the toll of war is hard on family life and England had changed forever, it would never be the same again.
By the nineteen eighties of course, the butler and footmen had gone and the remaining family members were now reduced to actually working for a living, and largely looking after themselves, although still hanging on to their upper class ideals in many ways.
The house had been somewhat neglected, since world war two had left it with fewer family and staff, with the upkeep on these large london mansions being a huge millstone around the necks of the owners they scraped by with just the minimum of paid staff.
But, by the nineteen eighties there was some new money around, and the house was slowly being worked on, being refurbished and redecorated room by room.
The job that I was called in to look at involved a very large room which had originally been a ballroom. One could imagine the dances and ball’s that had once graced its interior, with the ladies wearing their finest clothes and the men in white tie and tails as they walzt the nights away.
This room had originally been very finely decorated with long brocade drapes at the tall wide windows, there was carved and gilded details to the scaglioni faux marble pillars, which were surmounted by gold leafed ceiling panels and architraves. It was absolutely splendid and in generally good condition if somewhat shabby.
The broad walls were hung with fine Chinese silk, this was stretched in the usual way over wooden lathes fixed to the wall beneath, the seams and joints carefully arranged to allow the design to flow across the wall without interuption. The skill which was needed to achieve this perfection is hard to describe, but one imagines a team of nineteenth century workers putting great craftmanship and not a little love into their work, to complete this effect of luxury. Sadly now as I looked, the silk was fadedd, loose in a few areas, dirty and stained in others and needing some new love to bring it back to life.
In cases like these, we conservators try hard to save everything possible, replace with new the minimum, and to treat the materials with great respect and reverance. We are like doctors looking at a fragile patient. We try to do no harm.
The light blue of the silk was now faded around the window reveals to a pleasant grey blue which set off the beautiful design of an oriental landscape, with small pavillions scattered across rock strewn gardens of cherry blossom and bamboo, reminiscent of that of fine porcelain.
Investigating the corner joints, I discovered that the vertical seams had been carefully inserted into slots cut into the wooden lathes and scured with narrow silk covered fillets. It would be fairly easy to release the silk from the frame, although great care would be needed in the full removal.
One wall seemed to have had a previous restoration, as the silk was somewhat looser in the stretch and part of the pictorial design did not quite match. I took reference photographs, made measurements of the wooden framing and many notes about the condition of the walls and wall coverings in regards to the windows and doorways.
Well, within a week an estimate was prepared, along with a working plan and materials list, and was submitted to the owners of the house. I heard no more for about eight months, in fact, just as I was giving up hope of ever getting the job.
Yes, we had the contract, we could go ahead as soon as we could arrange the work to fit in with our present commitments.
I visited the mansion again to make final arrangements, taking along a young lady conservator who was to do the preliminary work. She was delighted to be involved, and I had much faith in her ability to do an excellent job.
We started in early June, the weather in London was beautiful that year and the house was virtually ours, as both the family and their small staff had left for holidays in Italy. Only the hired caretaker remained, more of a live in security guard really, as his care taking duties were light, so we rarely saw him.
After a few days we had made inroads into removing the silk from two walls, each panel carefully photographed as it was taken down, whilst a condition report was prepared for future use, and diagrams made for the refitting.
At this point I was calłed away to an emergency situation in a gallery in the south of London, trying to save as much as I could from a fire which had ripped through after a poorly placed halogen spotlamp had set fire to a curtain. My assistant carried on at the mansion, I have always had full trust in her and was confodent that the job would go swimmingly.
Dealing with the fire damaged art was both messy and time consuming, but we got stuck into the job and concentrated on saving what we could.
A few days later, I recieved a frantic call from the office, could I go immediately to the mansion as there was some sort of problem, the reason was not stated as my assistant wanted to have me take charge of the situation.
I arrived early next day, and Lucy
asked me to come up to the ball room. She had removed almost all of the silk and the battens, carefully numbered were neatly stacked in the center of the dance floor. Only one wall of silk remained in place, the wall that had had evidence of earlier work. The other walls were now all cleaned of cobwebs and the light yellow of the plaster glowed in the sunlight from the windows.
Lucy had already told me that there was an unusual texture under the remaining silk, and now as I peeled it carefully back I could see that the wall was covered in a patchwork of small paper rectangles which had been distempered over. In some places there was evidence of mould and flaking of the surface.
We removed the remaining silk and battens, working carefully to do no damage to the wall beneath.
With the silk covering folded, and the battens numbered and stacked, we looked closer at the wall. In one section a paper rectangle was loose on the corner, so very gently and taking great care we gradually eased it away from the wall. It took nearly an hour to remove, but came away undamaged. On closer inspection it seemed to have something written upon it, but the distemper on one side and the thick mould on the other made it difficult to see. I placed it into an acid free envelope, and Lucy took it back to the workshop that evening, and handed it on to our paper restorer.
Two days passed, with me back at the fire scene, and Lucy having a short break with family. Then I got a call from the office, what did I want done with the fiver?
It turned out that after working on the paper rectangle for a couple of days, the paper restorer had discovered that under the mould and distemper, the rectangle was actually an old English white paper banknote. A five pound banknote!
I called Lucy, and put her in charge of removing the rest of the rectangles from the wall, and arranged for the paper restorer to be on hand to help with the job.
He set up a small on site workshop and lab in the ball room, so that each banknote could be processed on site. In total three and a half thousand five pound notes were removed from the wall. It took the best part of six months to process them, with only six being deemed to fragile to save. Of course, the family were delighted with our find, even more so when the notes, presented at The Bank of England, were paid out in full face value. Seventeen thousand pounds, had been pasted onto the wall, but by whom?
Various ideas were put forward, but we suspect that the notes had been pasted onto the wall either at the time of the Wall Street crash of 1928, or had been hidden away there at some time during world war two, possibly for safe keeping by a family member who subsequently sadly died in the conflict. Whatever, it made the present family extreemly happy to have an unexpected windfall of money, which would be worth in excess of a quarter of a million pounds in todays money, taking inflation into consideration.
Well there you are, a most unusual find and a most unusual true story.
So, next time you move house or redecorate, be careful how you remove the wallpaper or covering, because I suspect that this was not the only hoard of banknotes safely stored for the future in that way.

 

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YOUNG ROMANCE: A KISS FROM A STRANGE GIRL by Tebogo Mogoto | GBAMLOG.COM

I am tk , a guy who hardly go out at night for drinks. One Saturday night my younger bro and i decided to go out for couple of drinks. We went to the nearest pup, we got there a bit early and we picked a very nice spot where you could see everyone coming in and out.

While drinking, a group of girls came in and set right in front of us, one of them was my ex, she kept on waving at us smiling.. I wasn’t interested but i waved back.. she came to our table asked us if we could join them, I said “no we are actually with our girlfriends” … why would i wanna go to a pup to be with my ex… i mean i know her, and i know her cookie too i ate that shit.

After some few hours lot of people came in, lot of fine girls,the pup got creepy crowded.. people are dancing and drinking. It was my round to go and buy, when i came back, just after i set down, I saw two beautiful girls coming straight next to us, simply because it was the only spot with enough space.

The other girl was blond i think, then the other one was gorgeous, such a hottie, a light skinned caramel babe in adidas tracksuits damn! i still remember all her moves, i couldn’t get enough of her, every chance i got i looked at her.. she seemed a bit shy, well i thought so. I don’t know what other guys thought of her but all i know is that i would lick her from head to toe.

While my brother and i still admiring her beauty we saw two guys coming for them.. the next thing she is holding hands and cuddling with one of the “motherfuckers” sorry i mean one of the “guys” who magically later became her cousin.. i didn’t buy that. still don’t. I got bored, very irritated i immediately took out my phone and replayed messages on WhatsApp.

While at it, the hottie, charlorray its her name… she came set next to me asked me why am i here if am gonna be on my phone the whole night, I told her that she was also on her phone when she got here… but in my mind i wanted to tell her ” babes go to your man i don’t wanna get into trouble “. After talking she then went back to her lover cousin.

At my 10th drink half way drunk, i felt a very warm and soft hand grabbing my hand then i looked it was her “charlorray” she then pulled me outside pushed me against the wall… asked me if i ever kissed a stranger.. i slowly said nnno… She then kissed me …. Damn!! she was so good, so amazing just the way i loved it,. it felt like the world has stopped moving, the pup turned in to a church, drunkards turned into followers, tracksuits turned into a white dress.. it was quiet a dream.

After the kiss she wanted to leave i grabbed her and pulled her back to me kissed again, she then stopped, i asked for her number, she refused while taking my hand and went back inside the pup. It felt good, so good but was very surprised but bit worried that i will never see her again after this. In my mind everything was her, I’ll be lying if i say i didn’t think of fucking her, yes true i thought of wanting to fuck the shit out of her but she was not up for that, she was just up for kissing a stranger and i respected that.

The night got old, the pup was about to close everyone went outside, all the crowd was outside and i couldn’t find charlorray.. then i bumped into her lady cousin she then told me where charlorray is.. luckily i found her exactly where i was told I’d find her. She asked me to walk her home, i agreed.

When we got to her house, we got into her car that was parked outside, we talked like we knew each other for years, we cuddled a bit though it was a lil torture to me because i couldn’t stop thinking about the kiss and she refused to kiss me again. When i asked for her numbers she gave me two choices.. numbers or a kiss, numbers came with a package of friendship and a kiss came with nothing.. she is a good girl, friendly, kind and very calm. so I made a good choice for not choosing a kiss. but i still wanted it, wanted us to be kissing friends… Wait did i tell you that we even nursed the new friendship with chocolates…. **laughs**

***THE END***

A TRUE LOVE STORY: I MET A MAN by M.B Carlisle | GBAMLOG.COM

What is love? I met a man in a store. I worked in the store. He didn’t. He was a customer. I didn’t know his name. He sent a dozen roses with a card asking me on a date. I inquired of co-workers to find out who the mystery man was. Oh, he was so old my parents would never allow me to date him. I was seventeen, weeks away from eighteen. He was twenty-four.

To this day I don’t know how he did it. He talked my parents into allowing us to go on a short, three-hour date to a local restaurant. We went on a Saturday night.

The next Friday night we went to a movie at a theatre next door to the store where I worked. My parents owned the store. We were asked to leave the movie because we were talking to each other non-stop.
That crazy man asked me to marry him the very next day and the day after that I said “yes”! The crazy man showed up at my high school to give me a dozen roses and my engagement ring.

Three weeks later we married on Thanksgiving Day. We chose the date because I would be on school break. I moved into his garage apartment. It was so tiny. Too tiny! It was the size of a single car garage!

Two weeks after we married, my husband’s employer filed for bankruptcy and he lost his job. We scraped by. He took odd jobs and worked towards obtaining his Master plumber’s license.

By early March, I was pregnant. By September, we were parents to a very preemie little boy. The following week, my husband started his own plumbing business. We were so very broke.

I found a decent job as a bookkeeper and we moved to a rent-to-own-house.

Eighteen months later our daughter was born, and I had a hysterectomy. I was twenty. Two months after her birth, my husband broke his upper left arm in half. Two surgeries later and with a mountain of medical bills, we had to forsake our home and we moved to an abandoned, bank-owned, partially constructed home on three acres. It was barely livable. The idea was we would fix up the house a little at a time. It was a low point.

I found a better job and my husband healed and we put money into getting the house fixed up. Heirs to the thirty acres surrounding our house approached us to see if we wanted to purchase the land. We did.

I walked on the campus of a community college and began what would be an eight-year journey of night classes to obtain my accounting degree. I worked, attended classes, studied, parented, and barely slept and learned to let go of keeping a perfectly clean house. Sleep was more important.

College was interrupted for a bout with ovarian cancer. I was fortunate. It was caught early enough.

Sixteen years into our marriage, I was a college graduate and CPA and our children were in their teens! Now we had two kids to get through college. Staying on a strict budget, and with the help of academic scholarships, they earned their degrees.

On a balmy March day, in the year 2010, my husband and I peeped in to see our daughter and son-in-law. Labor had been induced. Our daughter had received an epidural and was relaxed and in early labor. We waited with the other grandparents in the waiting area. It was just the four of us waiting when we heard codes/alarms blaring and all the hospital staff on the floor running and I do mean running! We parents, soon-to-be grandparents, tried to run after the hospital bed being pushed as fast as it could go down the hallway of the hospital. Our son-in-law turned for just a second. The baby’s heartbeat had stopped, he said….

At that moment, I looked in the eyes of the man I had then been married to for twenty-nine years. In an instant, every moment of joy and sorrow, of sickness and health, of richer or poorer, passed between us.

I look back on that day and know this. Love starts small with a feeling of emotion and attraction. Love grows through the sharing of the ebb and flow of life. To give up on it too soon, is to give up on the treasure of looking into the eyes of a man or a woman whose shared your life with you. There is no replacement for the love that builds with time.

It was exactly 11:12 am when the hospital bed was hurried down the hallway. We four grandparents prayed. We would learn the umbilical cord was wrapped around our grandson and had caused his heart to stop.

In an eternity lasting minutes, we waited, then our son-in-law sent a text of our daughter holding our grandson. Our grandson was born at 11:22 am. Our anniversary is 11/22. That’s a good number.

Not every marriage is sustainable. We have had our share of fights and twice were on the brink of divorce. I am glad we didn’t give up.

Today, the first grandson will soon be nine and his younger brother is five.

We’ve been blessed to have moved from poverty to financial stability and to have survived and thrived after medical scares and to have each other.

I married a man I met at a store. We live in a farm house in the middle of thirty-three acres.

ROMANCE REALITY: FIRST LOVE by Dave Lane | GBAMLOG.COM

Stretching out my legs in the sand with the afternoon sun shining down on me I could feel my entire body go limp. My head tilted back with my eyes shut, the sounds of the waves crashing along the beach, the warm breeze carried the sweet smell of the ocean, I was so happy to finally be in Myrtle Beach. Looking over at my friends, I witnessed Jay rubbing his eyes, Joe and Will yawning and Bob stretched out over his towel. I guess we were still feeling the effects of that long drive from Massachusetts to South Carolina. None of us got any sleep during the drive. Bob, Jay and I couldn’t stop fidgeting the entire ride. Joe and Will kept measuring the miles and counting down each mile to the next state border. When we finally arrive at the cottage the five of us never brought in our luggage or bags, we just crashed in the first bed or couch we saw. Today was peaceful, it was nice to just relax on the beach in the warm South Carolina sun. The day seem to escape us as we joked and reminisced about our high schools years. The more we talked, the more I realized that each of us was heading our separate ways. Joe and Will were heading off SMU, Bob and Jay were becoming electricians and I was heading to Dean College in September. There was that short moment of silence as I looked around at our little group, my lips tightened, this was probably the last time we would all be together. Realizing that, my mind was flooded with wonderful memories of high school, my friends, sports, parties, etc. My head drooped down, and I decided to listen to my walkman. As the music started my mind started to drift when Jay tapped me on the shoulder.
“We’re heading back, are you coming?” Jay asked as he stretched his arms out.
Placing my headphones around my neck I looked up and shielded my eyes from the sun light and said, “I am going to stay here for a little longer.”
Jay smiled and gave me a quick nod of approval before heading back to the cottage.
The brightness of the sun started to dim and turn to a more reddish color as it descended behind me. Dusk was a peaceful and beautiful time to be on the beach. It was less inhabited and a little cooler. The smell of the salt air was so soothing and you could hear the rhythm of the waves crashing along the shore. There was a warm offshore breeze flowing in and you could smell the sweet ocean as the tide headed out to sea. The breeze and the waves started to have a tranquilizing effect on me. I was enjoying watching people walk up and down the beach; kids running toward the water and then back trying to avoid the waves, an older couple walking holding hands and mother was holding her infant daughter playing in the water lifting her up when the waves came gliding in. The beach was far from crowded but still had good activity. This was a good time to put my headphones back on and listen to music. The sounds of the beach began to vanish as the music of Chicago took over. Stretching my legs and leaning back on my elbows I shut my eyes and began to hear the music. Slowly I took in a deep breath and opened my eyes. Suddenly something reached out and grabbed my attention. I was captivated by this girl in a red bathing suit. She was walking along the edge of the water glancing out at the ocean on a few occasions. Her sandy blonde hair had reached down just beyond her shoulders. She was about 50 yards in front of me and her stunning beauty had a grasp on me when she stopped for a moment to brush her hair back with both hands. You could see her feeling the warm breeze on her face as she tilted her head back. My heart was slowly pounded and my breath just escaped from my lungs. As she was walking by I could hear the next song start; “You know our love was meant to be, The kind of love that lasts forever”. I am not sure if this was love at first sight but I could not let this moment pass me by. Leaping to my feet I started to I started to walk toward her both shaky legs and nervousness. How am I going to initiate a conversation with her, I thought to myself. Maybe say Hi, how are you? Maybe smile and wave at her. Maybe accidently bump into her. I didn’t know, all I knew was I just had to meet her, or at least try. I waited until she took a few more steps and then I began walking towards the water. She moved at slow pace, so it was easy to keep my distance. The song continued to play; “And I want you here with me from tonight until the end of time”.
Trying to remain cool and calm, I kept my pace with hers as she dragged her feet in the water. She was about 40 yards ahead of me and I knew that she would be turning around to go back but I was not sure when that would happen. My mind went into overdrive trying to think of something witty or funny to say to her. I just wanted to catch her attention. The more I thought about it the more I thought of stupid pick-up lines.
“Damn It!” I whispered to myself.
All I could focus on was the way she was walking up the beach. So I decided to lower my eyes and look down as I continued. Thinking that maybe I should just nod my head at her or smile with a quick wink. Or maybe ask for directions to the docks. Each idea that I came up with seemed more pathetic than the last one. I was a loss for words. Every so often I would look up and making sure to keep my distance. She was still there walking in front of me. My hands began to sweat and my heart still pounded! I knew that she was going to turn around very shortly. My head continued to race to think of something to say. I took another look up and my mouth just dropped. She had stopped walking and was now standing there gazing out at the ocean.
Ok, ok. This is not bad, you still have a few moments to think of something, I said to myself and then noticed that she turned towards me and began her journey back.
“Oh Shit!”, I said quite loudly.
Now is the time! I needed to thinking of something to say. She was 30 yards and closing. My mouth was dry, my palms sweaty, and my heart jumping. Although her strides were slow, everything seem to be speeding up . 20 yards, 10 yards . . . Damn! This was it, I had to say something. I had to say it right now because she was within 5 yards of me. I looked up and saw her blue eyes glance over at me. She gave me a extremely adorable smile. Now was the time, my shining moment had come, I had to say something. I looked at her and our eyes met and I said, “What’s a cute girl like you walking all by herself for?” All that time I spent thinking about what to say and this is the best I can come up with. I blew it!
She gave a slight laugh and said to me, “Waiting for a cute guy to escort me back!” My heart felt like it was coming through my chest. That was it. I stopped right there and so did she! I was not sure what happened and how it happened but a conversation developed.
“Hi” she said in a southern accent, “ I’m Susan.”
I did everything to restrain my excitement and be cool. “Hi, I’m Dave.”
It was at that moment that I felt absolutely at ease with her and could talk freely. The conversation on the way back flowed. She was Susan from West Virginia and she was down here with her friend’s family. Susan was going to be a high school senior and I was a freshmen in college. My hands were absolutely sweaty and my mind was racing around but I never took my eyes off of her eyes. Her eyes! Her eyes were light blue and I melted when she looked at me. We made it back to the spot where I first saw her. We talked a little bit more, reluctantly we parted and I could not wait to get back to the cottage and tell my friends about her. Oh man! She is stunning!
I burst through the front door and saw Jay on the couch and Joe in the kitchen. I immediately began to tell Jay about her and our conversation. As Joe came walking into the living room he asked one question. “Did you get her number?’ I paused and my eyes widded. Jay then chimed in and said, “Do you know where she is staying?” My head just dropped into my right hand. “Shit!” quickly I turned towards the door and ran out. Heading back towards the beach I could hear laughter from the cottage .
I made it back to the beach but by this time Sue was nowhere to be found. I stayed there for a while, hoping that she might show up. After about an hour I went back to the cottage. This time everyone was at the dining room table hanging out. Joe was ready to give me a hard time but Jay saw the look on my face and quickly looked over at Joe. Joe got the hint and said that she will be around and it’s the beginning of the week. Not only did I feel like an idiot, but I felt my heart drop.
We had a few beers and got ready to go out for the night. We were going to hit the Strip and walk around. I just wanted stay in the cottage and wallow in my regrets, but Jay talked me into going. When we arrived Jay and I took off and went to a few stores. The Strip was crowded with people walking up and down and the cars were slowly trolling the main street. It was a warm summer night and the lights flooded the Strip. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Although I thought I was putting up a good front smiling and laughing, Jay could see right through that and said me, “You want head back to the cottage and have a few more beers?” “Yea!”, I answered. We saw Will with Joe and told them we were heading back. There was silence for a moment and Joe said we can head back in about 15-20 minutes if you want. I told Jay that it was fine with me if waited. Jay and I started walking the strip again, at that moment I heard a voice to my left. “Hey didn’t I meet you on the beach today?” As I looked over I saw Susan in the passenger side of a small hatchback leaning out the window. She gave me a big smile. My eyes widded and I froze for just a second or two! I hit Jay on the shoulder and said”Jay! Jay! This is Susan the girl I told you about on the beach!” She laughed and introduced us to her friend. We were talking about a minute before two police officers came up to us and told us we were blocking traffic. “Either get in the car with them or move along!” Susan’s friend told us to get in the back. We drove around for a few minutes and asked them if they wanted to go to our cottage. They did! The whole ride back to the cottage Susan and I talked, and as we talked her blues eyes melted my heart.
She pulled the car onto the gravel driveway and Jay and I immediately paired up with the girls. I asked Susan to go down to the beach. She did and we continued our conversation from this afternoon. We both sat down on the cool sand and just talked. We talked about school, summer, music, etc. it was getting late. I got up and put my hand out to help her up. When I felt her hand grab my hand a sensation came over me. Butterflies were bouncing around in my stomach. I guided her up from the sand and held her hand in mine. I turned into her and held her other hand. That brief moment, at that point, I wish I could savor that feeling forever. We stood there and looked into each other’s eyes. Susan gave a slight smile and I lean into her for a kiss. She responded the same way. Her lips were soft and sweet. It was a light kiss filled with soft passion. She smiled again and said, “That was really sweet!” My heart was beating fast and my breath escaped me. Susan took one hand from my hand and placed it on the side of my face. She shut her eyes and moved her hand to the back of my neck and pulled me in for another kiss. I placed my free hand on her waist and began to pull her towards me. I moved my other hand onto her waist and she placed both her hands on each side of my face. As we kissed you could hear the waves crashing along the beach. It was a warm night and it was so romantic. This moment, this time, this feeling, I will never forget. Each kiss was better than the last. At one moment we stopped kissing and just looked into each other’s eyes. It seems like such a cliche but I was swept off my feet and it did not seem corny to me. I was taken over by this beautiful girl from West Virginia. My heart was hers. My soul was hers. In this short amount time I was falling for her, I wanted to spend every second together. I wanted to share every moment with her. Susan looked at me and said, “Are you ok?” I shook my head and kissed her on the forehead. I pulled her in closer and we hugged. She had moved her hands down onto my chest and felt my heart pound. I could hear Jay and Susan’s friend calling for us. They were approaching the beach. Susan never pulled away from me. She stayed holding me while they walked up to us. Jay smiled at me and gave me a nod. Her friend told us that they had to get going. Susan looked at me, smiled and told me she will stop by tomorrow morning. I asked her where they were staying. She pointed at a condo that was less than 1/10th of a mile away. God damn!
That next morning Susan had stopped by as promised. She looked as beautiful as she did the night before. We spent the day together and talked. We walked up the beach and as I reached for her hand to hold, she knew instantly and grabbed my hand. Our hands interlocked with each finger in between her fingers. At that moment a feeling came over me like a wave. The feelings were overwhelming, but the best feeling was the warmth in my heart that spread throughout my body. My mind was racing and could not believe that this girl, I was holding hands with, was actually with me. That day was a day that will always be with me. Even as I write this down I still feel that warmth in my heart and my soul. We did everything together that day. Most of the time we spent together we talked. We asked each other questions about our lives, where we grew up, what music we listen to, etc. The more I knew about her the more I was falling for her. Her West Virginia accent was so sweet to listen to, her blue eyes captivated me, her sandy-blond hair, and her tanned body didn’t hurt either. But her personality. Susan was funny, caring, lovable, sweet and interesting. We got along that day and the days that followed. While my friends went out to clubs and other places, Susan and spent time together. We would sit on the beach at night and talk. Yes we would kiss and hold each other. When we did kiss it was like the first kiss. Never wanting to end. I remember lying down next to her on the beach. I shifted around, lying on my stomach with my left arm reaching across her waist and as I looked down at her, she just softly closed her eyes. Her left arm was under me and reaching up my back. I reached across to her waist pulling her closer to me. She reached up and slid her hand up the front of my chest to the back of my neck and pulled me closer to her. We softly kissed and for a moment, as I shut my eyes, I was completely captivated in the passion of that kiss. At that moment, at that precise second, I realized that my feelings for her were strong. I knew I was falling in love with this girl. Even though we only spent a few days together, every moment we shared felt right.
That final day came, the day we had to say goodbye to each other. This was a day earlier than I expected, Susan had to leave on Thursday morning because of the drive back to West Virginia. She stopped by the cottage early, I was tired and depressed. I kept thinking about this moment the entire night. I hated this feeling, but the moment I saw her walking around the corner my mind flooded with emotions. God I was thrilled to see her again but quickly realized that this time was the last. We chatted for a little bit but most of the time we just held each other. My heart felt like it was being torn out. This sick feeling overwhelmed me. Sadness creeped in with every minute. I wanted time to stop, so I could catch my breath and keep this beautiful girl in my arms. My heart pounded but it was not like before. I was anticipating that dreaded moment that was about to happen. Finally, which seemed like only a few seconds, Susan looked at me and said, ‘I have to go!’ I could tell she was crying. God I wanted to comfort her and tell her how much I loved her. ‘I know you do,’ I replied. Tears were starting to fill up in my eyes. I could not hold it back much longer but I did not want her to see me like this. I kept my head down. She kissed me on the forehead. With my hand, I reached out and grabbed her hand. I pulled her close to me and kissed her. I held her as tight as I could. Then I whispered to her, ‘I love you! Don’t you ever forget about me!’ Susan whispered back into my ear, ‘I will never forget you!’ It was at that moment we both let go and she started walking away. My heart was torn out of my chest. This pain was too much. When I could not see her anymore I broke down and started to cry. This feeling of sadness took over me and came out all at once. Leaning against the front of the car I heard the front door to the cottage open. I did not turn around because I was such a mess. I felt a hand on back and Jay’s voice saying, ‘It’s hard and it sucks!’ those words don’t seem like much but they went a long way with me. Jay might not be a master of words, but he is a true friend and has always been there for me. We stayed outside not saying anything for a long time. Then I said, ‘Let’s get something to eat.’ We walked into the cottage and had breakfast.
All day long I could not help but think of Susan. I was wondering where she was at certain times during the day. Was she thinking of me on the ride home? How long would she remember me? At times I felt like crying. For the most part I kept it together, but when I was alone I would let it out. That night we went out but my heart was with Susan. I was not much fun and my friends knew why. We went to some local club and drank a few beers, but I did not want to be here anymore. I just wanted to go home.
The next morning we left Myrtle Beach. Jay and I drove together in his car on our way home. At times we would take turns driving. All I could think about was Susan. Certain songs on the radio would trigger a memory I had of her. I did not want to forget the short time we had together. When I was driving I would play the Chicago tape I was listening to when I first saw Susan walking along the beach.
After Myrtle Beach, I saw Susan one other time. Jay and I took a trip to Morgantown, WV during Labor Day Weekend. We recruited our friend Karl to go with us. The trip was about a 10 hour drive. Like driving down to Myrtle Beach we all took shifts driving.
I saw Susan for a couple days that weekend. The first night I saw Susan was at her high school football game. She was on the sideline cheerleading when I arrived. She looked so adorable, Susan looked as beautiful and stunning as the first time I saw her. That entire weekend was just as special as the time we spent down in Myrtle Beach. Jay and Karl were great. When the game was over Susan came up to me and gave me a huge tremendous adoring hug. Her embrace felt so affectionate! When I closed my eyes and held her close to me I caught a whiff of her aroma. The fragrance brought me back to Myrtle Beach. Funny we did not kiss but just held each other for a brief time. The moment we let go, I clutched her hand and walked her over to Jay and Karl. After I introduced her to them, Susan and I talked for a little longer. She had to go home tonight but we made plans for tomorrow. It was a little heartbreaking but I knew we would be together for the next couple of days.
Those two days rapidly flew by. Our last day together was just as hard as the last time we said goodbye. In the parking lot of the motel I had her in my arms. She embraced me with the same warmth and intensity as I had. We did not say anything for the longest time. Her arms started to squeeze me tighter and I knew it would be agonizing to let her go from my arms. To release our grasp that we had on each other would be to let go forever. Even in mind I was planning my next trip see her, in the back of my mind I knew this was the last time I would be with her again. I felt that Susan was thinking the same thing. Occasionally her embrace would get a little tighter. As we slowly released our hug my hands moved down to her waist. Her hands lowered down to my chest. I looked into her sensational blue eyes and saw a tear gently slide down her check. I pulled her in and tenderly kissed her on the forehead. When I pulled back I looked into her eyes. “I love you!” I said .
“I love you too.” she replied and put her head on my chest again.
The time came for us to let go and finally say ‘goodbye’. With my hands firmly holding onto hers, the sensation of tears formed in my eyes. As much as I tried to held back the tears the worse it got. Susan looked at and brushed the tears of my face. Her hand shifted to the back of my neck and she kissed me again. Susan looked up at me, there was a brief moment of silence and then we kissed for the last time. “I’ll write soon.” I said. She shook her head and then we parted. I watched her get into her car and drive off. I got myself together and headed back to the room.
I kept hanging on to the idea of a relationship with Susan, but as time went on the realization began to sink in. We wrote each other 2-3 times a week but as weeks turn into months the letters became less frequent. Soon the letters gradually stopped.
It has been 35 years since I last saw Susan but the memories are still strong. Although I fell in love again and now have a family, I never forgot about Susan. Over the years I have always wondered what she is doing, Where she was living?, What type of job she has?, Did she ever get married, have children? Is she happy? I never stopped caring for her.
No matter how old you are or how many years have gone by, you never forget your first experiences. Some are more memorable than others and there are some you would like to forget. Each memory I will always cherish, my first hit playing baseball as a kid, riding bike without training wheels, I walking into Fenway Park and seeing the Green Monster, my first date, etc. But the one that sticks out the most, as far as first experiences go, is the first time I fell in love.

REALITY CLASSIC TALE: LOVE? OR SLAVERY? By Hilary Chikuvira | GBAMLOG.COM


“If you are not going to be a girlfriend and wife, who is submissive, who follows the lead of a husband, then we got to deal with this now, because no wife of mine will rule my house, give me orders or go to a separate church from mine!”, said Tendai fuming, his voice was shaking from anger, l could see he was totally charged up and no longer caring to select his choice of words.
I was also fed up myself, and l retorted angrily, “fine, if you want me to be that kind of a wife and fiancée, then to hell with it, what are we even doing now? Let’s not waste each other’s time anymore. Have a great life”. I slammed his car door nice and hard as l climbed out and walked away into the dark.
So how did things get so messy?
Tendai and I had fallen in love with each other a year ago, he was all l ever wanted in a guy, ‘at first’ and l was his dream girlfriend too. Both of us at the age of 28 just thought this definitely was it. The search for true love was over.
With time there emerged those nitty-gritty human imperfections. Tendai is traditional, old school and reserved on the other hand l am less cultural and a newly emerging activist for feminism and gender equality. He is the type that prefers to not touch alcohol, deems it unclean for his soul, he prefers the traditional kind of music, and he loves spending his days chilled, watching movies or visiting family and friends. It made me look like l was the wild one, so eager to try anything and everything, ready to live, never content with sleeping before 11 pm on a weekend, and definitely never one to repeat the same activities over and over again.
So as expected in such cases, we started getting into each other’s nerves. He began to think l was too independent, l had no respect for tradition and that l could just not make a good wife for him, but this was never said out aloud. I began to find him quite boring, and just not fun to hang with. But none of us could audibly say it out. We had just come a long way to quit because of what we thought to be a few indifferences.
In my culture, men pay lobola to show respect to the bride’s family and say thank you for raising your daughter well. The culture sort of sells women under the guise of culture. Lobola can be 15 cows including other cultural things that a guy must pay up, not to mention that after the lobola the guy must sponsor the white wedding ceremony as well. The bride’s family demands the amount of lobola they want, and the amount can even add up to 15000 us dollars, which is a 2-year saving for a typical middle-class guy who has decided to forgo buying a house, a car, and a decent living style. Lately, families have become overly greedy and are demanding alarming lobola prices. The fathers of the bride use the lobola to buy things like a fancy car or spend the money getting drunk. And in turn the bride has to leave her family, her religion, her lifestyle, her surname and almost everything else important is foregone by the lady as she follows her husband. It becomes the duty of the wife to clean, cook, take care of the husband and kids, as well as to get formerly employed somewhere and contribute to the new family income. If lobola was truly a cultural way of appreciating a partner l do not see why both partners cannot give lobola to the spouse’s family, or why a guy cannot give out what he has, but instead must toil for years to get to afford a wife.
And as you can imagine, l being a feminist, who realizes there is something seriously wrong with this culture from as early as 11 was totally ready to rebel. And certainly not prepared to be sold off, so l tried reasoning with the love of my life.
We were sitting in Tendai’s car, he was preparing to drive me home, after we had spent the day in the park, doing what we usually do, ‘Chilling’ in the relaxed way he likes. And poor I got bored; there was nothing new to say, no interesting conversation about the latest movie, or the hit song on the market. Just family talk about how we would chill like this, during the weekends once we were married.
Sol blurted out, “Tendi, love brought us together, l love you dearly, but there are a few things we should change love. For starts l would love to keep going to my church, l like it there, and l would love for you to take care of your siblings, but the family culture of a newly wedded couple living under the same roof with family relatives just takes the vibe off honeymoon phase, we can always share, but l prefer staying with you only and my kids, unless we really have to take in someone in need. Can we do that?
Tendai’s eyes grew big, as if they were gonna pop out of their sockets, all he could mutter was “whaaaaat?” Since l had kept this buried for so long in my heart, l thought, ah why not just let it all out, after all, he is my boyfriend, he is bound to see things more from my perspective if l explain well.
“Yes Tendai, l think women’s positions in the house are a bit unfair too, for instance a man gets to come back from work, sits at home, and watches tv whilst the lady who has also come back from a long day at work, breaks her back to cook, wash and do dishes as well as take care of the kids. It sounds more like slavery rather than marriage. I hope when we are married we can share tasks according to everyone’s capabilities, it would make married life easier for me love”.
Tendai looked at me long and hard, with clear bewilderment in his eyes. “Love a woman should be a woman, know your place, and know that it will always be behind me, your boyfriend and future husband, l will be the head of the family, l will make the final decisions, you will be my wife, what is the purpose of a wife? Is it not taking care of the husband? Talk to your mother, talk to your church elders, talk to anyone and they will tell you the same! The husband leads, the wife follows. Equal rights are there, but just not on this!” He ended, fuming with fury.
I guess in his mind he was thinking, oh this gal, what nonsense is this, women are women, and they should remain women. That was the moment when l finally opened up my eyes to the truth l had refused to see all the time; nothing was going to change in this relationship. Not me and certainly not Tendai. It was my purpose to actively campaign for women’s rights. So l took my leave from the car that had become stuffy and tension-filled from the heated argument.
This is the issue that has brought about the end of our so-called love to where we are right now, bitterness, regrets, anger, and anger.
We both think we are right; we both want the other to see how they are the ones who are wrong. And above all, no one wants to compromise.
I take a taxi, and head home, with deep sorrow inside of me, hoping someday, the society will see life in the eyes of a woman because for now, life is just far from being fair where men and women are concerned. I don’t blame Tendai though; he was born in this world, where culture and tradition plays a major role in people’s lives, even if the culture clearly weakens another party and gives the other all the power. It’s the way it is, and everyone has a choice, to do away with the bad culture, or keep it alive and running for the next generation to copy.
But l know my stand on point.

MYSTERY CLASSICS:NOTES FROM A SPIDER by Camilla Grudova | GBAMLOG.COM

These notes were found in a leather binder, written on loose-leaf paper of good quality. The binder was stuffed in an old trunk, underneath a moth-eaten fox fur, small black records, many broken needles, tattered bits of sewn cloth and empty glass medicinal bottles, in a condemned building, the last of many to be torn down to make way for modern and sanitary housing.

I couldn’t have been born in any city but this one, a great European capital filled with beautiful, highly detailed architecture, a castle overlooking the river, the city a spread of gilded and copper garlic-like domes, gargoyles, steeples, trains, lampposts resembling moons entrapped by black vines, skylights like dew on buildings, factories, workshops, cabarets, a forest of iron, stone, glass. I certainly can’t imagine myself existing in an American or Siberian village, a desert, a valley. I have only seen such places in books, I have never left the city in which I was born. I’m given many invitations to visit villas in foreign countries, castles, the seaside, but I worry I would disappear as soon I stepped out of this city, like a cloud of smog.

I feel part wrought iron, part human and, I won’t lie, part vermin.

I have eight legs, and the upper body of a normal man. Black hair, elegant nose and melancholy green eyes, a good set of fake teeth made out of elephants’ tusks – I had my real ones removed, like so many gentlemen of my city, so I could enjoy rich food and drink without continual visits to a dentist. I had my fake ones designed to be sharper than my originals, more fang-like. The style has been emulated by many men, young and old.

I bring to mind a spider, an umbrella, a marionette.

The way I move I resemble a large hand with a few extra fingers. I only have one set of genitals – thank goodness! The delicacy and sensation of having a pair between each leg would be unbearable.

The spaces between my other legs resemble armpits, but slightly firmer. They are hairy. I have the hair removed with wax, so there will be less ambiguity when viewing my naked form. I take great care of my feet, each nail covered in clear, shiny polish, each sole dipped in scented powder.

My anus is directly underneath me, my buttocks a circle in the centre of my legs, much like a lavatory on which my torso permanently sits. A chamber pot is much easier for me to use than a modern toilet, and the cafés I patronize regularly provide me with one. Afterwards, I wipe myself with a wet cloth. I take great care with my appearance. I have suits especially made to fit the proportions of my body, though some, including my doctor, have suggested it would be more comfortable for me to wear a gown.

I never wear unmatching shoes, though some people would imagine I would want to, in order to show off my vast collection of footwear. I buy four pairs of each shoe I desire, and wear them all at once.

I could be a stone arabesque that crawled off a building, or a complex contraption belonging to a barber, a photographer or a mathematician. I could be one of many things that exist in the modern city, I play various roles in many fantasies.

It’s impossible to imagine my parents, I believe I simply rose out of the city, out of a steamy grate, like Venus out of the ocean. There are many men in the city, deformed by the guns and cannons of the last war, who have only one or two limbs left, or none at all – in a sense they are my fathers. If there is nothing shocking about a man with one limb, what is so shocking about a man with eight?

A soldier with one arm and no other limbs lives on a small wooden wagon outside the metro near my apartments. I always gave him coins until one day he asked if he could have two of my legs instead. He laughed, but his eyes looked so envious, so hungry, that I never stopped to give him anything again. I scurried away on my infinitely precious eight feet, an abundance of flesh.

From what I was told, I was left on a church doorstep, like a gargoyle that had fallen from its façade. I was brought to an orphanage, but I was too exceptional to stay in an orphanage long, news spread of me quickly. A handful of kind, curious patrons hired a nanny to raise me, tutors to educate me, a doctor to watch my health carefully. I was a particular favourite among wealthy women. No one person possessed me, I was considered a child of the city. Everyone important visited, brought me toys, books, musical instruments.

Though I wasn’t forced to learn a specific skill, or to heighten my difference with strange tricks, like the circus dwarf who is taught to juggle and dance, I played piano a little, had a fine voice, and knew arithmetic. But I knew from a young age that I would mainly devote myself to pleasures of less effort: to eating, drinking, reading, loving.

My legs are somewhat weak, long but childlike, despite exercises especially designed by my doctor. It is necessary that I walk with a cane. I have one with a silver spider on the handle.

With women, I often oblige them to sit astride me so that I won’t be overly weakened. I sleep the way a flower does, closed like an umbrella.

I have many women friends, and many woo me. One, a rich baron’s wife, had a coat made out of insects’ fur for me. She had hundreds of tarantulas and bees killed in order to make it, in order to appeal to me, but never have I been so repulsed. I care deeply for the creatures so many others despise: spiders, moths, rats, mice, all manners of bugs. They are my kind.

I have two pet rats, one white, one black, Odilon and Claude, whom I take with me everywhere in a leather and gold cage. I feed them candied almonds, bits of sausage and oranges. They are fond of me, they love to crawl across my many limbs, and I have my suits made with a few extra inches of loose fabric so that they can comfortably sit between my legs and the cloth. People often mistake their lumpish outlines for further deformations of my body, and are horrified when they move.

I am the city’s muse. Many artists have painted me, and there is a sculpture of my body, nude except for a bowler hat, in a public garden, upon a pedestal, with a poem, written in my honour, carved into it.

An architect designed a glass and steel pavilion full of palms where one can have tea, topped with a bronze model of my head, and a round theatre, made of black and white marble, the black marble designed in arches emulating my legs.

I also make a substantial amount doing advertisements for: absinthe, shaving lotion, wafers, sparkling water, brogues, bowties, soap, feather dusters, jewellery, truffles, silk, macaroons, liquorice, typewriters, photography studios, paint, thread, tea, perfume, coffee, Bergamot oil, sock garters, galoshes, tinned oysters, umbrellas, moustache wax, fishnet stockings, walking canes, bowler hats and nougat.

I refuse to do advertisements for insecticide, though I have been asked many times. How I hate those horrible shops with rats nailed to the façade, boxes of poison, traps for creatures of all sizes, some so large they might catch an unfortunate child.

How I love cockroaches, lice, fleas, pigeons, moths, rats, mice, spiders, sparrows and of course, cimex lectularius. It is thanks to me such dwellers in this city have a safe haven. Using my vast funds, I created a zoo where a selection of so-called vermin can exist in fascinating proliferation, in a closed-off area of the city, where glass tunnels have been built so that human citizens may walk through unmolested and unbitten. Visitors bring them rotten meat, stale bread, old clothes and bedding. Some find it relaxing, even addictive, to watch the creatures propagate, consume, die, to see them exist in a space where they can do each without restraint, without poison, brooms, traps, felines and dogs.

From a distance, my zoo resembles a great gallery or train station. It has many glass roofs, and grand pediments with friezes depicting rodents and insects. At the entrance, there is a bronze statue of me, a rat in one hand, a moth in the other.

I love the moth house, for those creatures consume everything. The moths were enclosed in a structure resembling a greenhouse. Every morning a man who wears an outfit similar to a beekeeper’s opens one of the glass panels and throws in a bag of stale bread and a pile of coats. In such profusion, the swarms of moths resemble swathes of brown fabric or vicious and strange tropical trees which sway to an unknown breeze.

Inside the rat house is a model in miniature of our city, the very same buildings and streets, so that one may watch the rats, so manlike with their hands and whiskers, go about their business of breeding, eating and digesting. The cockroaches and mice keep themselves hidden under old mattresses and couches. If one taps the glass of their cage with a cane or a fist, they move from one hiding place to another, storms of brown and grey. I always bring along a pair of opera glasses, to view the fleas and bed bugs.

The spider house is quiet. It has so many webs it resembles an arctic landscape in its whiteness. It is still except for the morning feeding, when flies and other small creatures are sacrificed. There is a great difference to me between a spider that needs blood, and so must kill, and the unnecessary crushing of spiders, simply because we do not like the sight of their webs in our windowsills. The spinning of webs in the zoo is barely perceptible to the viewer, but the spiders communicate with each other by playing their webs like string instruments, a harmonious music you can hear when all else is silent. They are common household spiders, from the windowsills and corners of my city. Some auspicious women visit the zoo specifically for the spiders, almost praying to them, telling them their secrets and their ailments, as if their words will be absorbed into the webs. I heard that some younger women bring, hidden in precious boxes, the pulp of their menstruation to give to the spiders, believing that doing so will bring them love, marriage, children, and even death. The zookeeper has shown me such boxes, like the ones rings are held in, but stained with blood. He keeps them in his office, after dropping the blood clots into the spiders’ home.

I also draw such attentions. Women unsatisfied with their husbands and unable to bear children come to my apartments begging. I sometimes oblige if their gifts for me are exquisite enough – a fur stole, or a crate of pomegranates or blood oranges, each fruit wrapped in gold foil, for example. The children that result all have my distinguished face, but none my multiple legs. Some women were too nervous and excitable when they saw me naked, my phallus extended like a ninth leg. The women most capable of dealing with an array of different bodies were prostitutes. They told me about the hundreds of deformities hidden under men’s clothing. They were never surprised nor shocked. Publicly, I spent most of my time with actresses and opera singers. I had my own box at all the theatres and opera houses in the city. I always wore a long black cape and sat in the back of my boxes, half hidden in the shadows so as not to draw attention away from the performances. I was the most famous man in my city, my face was everywhere. I was like a monument so large you could see it from wherever you were standing. There was even a ballet and an opera written about me. The ballet was titled Son of Arachne, the opera The Black Spider.

I have been asked to take to the stage myself, but my health would not permit it. It would be too exhausting on top of all my other activities.

It was after the premiere of Son of Arachne, however, that I fell into despair. For the pas de deux, a male and female wore tutus designed to look like multiple legs. (Ah, that female equivalent of me that doesn’t exist!) How they danced together, while I faced life alone! I bought a female tarantula from an exotic menagerie and kept her in a glass box shaped like a palace, I slept with four prostitutes all at once to immerse myself in a tangle of female legs, and later, I borrowed the costume from the ballet and made one of the women wear it, but nothing satisfied me. I went for long drives in my carriage at night, the carriage itself was spiderlike, I had its lace curtains designed to look like webs. I was searching, it seemed impossible that this city of factories, of specialist shops, this city that could produce everything in great quantities could only produce one of me. I stopped in front of Gothic cathedrals and ornate balconies, hoping for a mistress who resembled me to crawl down from their heights.

On one such night, driving across a shopping boulevard where the shop window lights were kept on all night, I spotted the most beautiful but inhuman thigh and told my driver to stop. It was a sewing machine shop. The machine in the window had four legs, like iron plants, a wooden body, a swanlike curved metal neck and a circular platform to run the fabric across, not unlike the plate on a gramophone where the record is placed, and a small mouth with one silver tooth. She was an unusual, modern creature. What beautiful music she must make! Florence was her name, it was stencilled on the shop window. florence. I sat there in my carriage until it was morning and the shop opened. I hastily purchased her, the one in the window. They asked if I wanted her taken apart for carrying, but I had her put, as is, in my carriage. I drove through the city, my legs entwined with hers, two of my feet placed on her sole-shaped pedals.

The shop owners gave me a catalogue of sewing machines, all the names tantalizing: Cleopatra, Countess, Dolly Varden, Daisy, Elsa, Alexandra, Diamond, Gloria, Little Gem, Godiva, Jennie June, Pearl, Victoria, Titania, Princess Beatrice, Penelope, Queen Mab, Empress, Anita, Bernina, Little Wonder, but none more than my Florence, sitting across from me.

Back at my apartments, I tried to bring her to life. I put a hankie from my pocket below her mouth, I fed her string, the very best, I pressed the pedal, but she was stubborn. She swore at me in large, uneven stitches, harsh lines on my kerchief. I wept. I embraced her desperately, kissing the metal body, but she was frigid and still.

Florence needed a woman to assist her, a lady in waiting, she was telling me. I asked one of my servants to call one of the prostitutes I saw regularly, and to bring her over in my carriage as soon as possible. Her name was Polina and her black, curly hair reminded me of Florence’s legs.

After she undressed, I told her to sit at the machine, and sew.

She pressed the pedal and laughed, blowing me a kiss. She got up and tried to join me on my chaise, but I demanded she sit down by Florence again. She pouted, and said what use did she have for knowing how to use a sewing machine? Her Madame fixed her underthings when they were torn. It wouldn’t do! I needed a professional, a seamstress. I told Polina to get out. I immediately wrote an ad for a newspaper and sent it by telegraph so it would appear the next morning.

WANTED

SEAMSTRESS

Oh those poor thin bespectacled things who lived in basements and attics, living off thin soup and dented cans of fish, their backs hunched, their fingers thin and calloused. Yes, there was something insect-like about them. I interviewed many, and settled on a young thing, not yet deformed by her profession. Her hair was the same chestnut colour as Florence’s wooden torso. I had her measured, and a dress made of black lace that followed the same pattern as Florence’s legs. I bought rolls of white, black and gold silk, for Florence to speak to me with.

The girl blushed when she changed into the dress, one could easily see her breasts and bottom through the pattern. I sat close by, and told her to sit down with Florence, and begin.

Ah, those stitches, like lipstick marks left on a paper napkin, sweet poems. The girl worked and worked, caressing Florence in a beautiful dance. I clutched the finished sheets of clothes to my chest. I didn’t want the girl to stop, I closed the curtains. We both became hypnotized, I don’t know how much time passed, but I watched and watched, telling the girl, ‘Do not stop, do not stop!’ in quick breaths until the girl collapsed, the cloth becoming tangled, Florence’s mouth slowing until it was still.

Florence, my mistress, had killed the seamstress. My stove was more decorative than utilitarian, a green and black box with as many ornamental figures and faces as an opera house. I had my meals in restaurants and didn’t use the stove for more than heating sugar, and it took all day to burn the remnants of the seamstress, whom I chopped up into little morsels no bigger than mussels, taking off the dress I had made for her first, of course, and draping it carefully over Florence, to whom it really belonged.

I was tempted, many times, to take the seamstress’s body to my zoo. Oh, how the rats, moths and fleas would consume her in a moment.

I had spent days, nights, in the company of Florence and the seamstress, unaware of time passing. After the seamstress’s body was burned, I was famished, greatly weakened. I kissed Florence and went to a restaurant. I ate my meal quickly, I was impatient to get back to Florence, but I needed another seamstress. I couldn’t use the same newspaper.

I waited near a clothing factory in my carriage and as the girls went home, I stopped and talked to one that appealed to me, the same chestnut hair, the same size as my first seamstress, so that I could reuse the dress I had. I gave the girl a meal delivered from a restaurant before she began, so that she would last longer, but not a meal heavy enough to make her lethargic.

I read the swathes of cloth, her fine, straight stitches, a mysterious and invigorating language, a great novel of love for me. I wrapped myself in them. I only left the apartment to eat, to find more seamstresses, to buy more cloth.

In Florence’s honour, I would open a sewing machine museum, which would also provide me with a steady stream of seamstresses. I would call it the Florentina Museum, an iron and glass building resembling a magnificent web. My patronesses loved the idea, though they had never sewn themselves. It would be recognition of women’s work, and they gave me the money I needed. The museum was planned under my direction, and sewing machine manufacturers donated models and further funds.

The seamstresses came to the museum on weekends in droves, either out of a strange curiosity to see machines unlike the ones they worked with or because they were scared of being away from their machines. No one would love them, so they pushed their affection towards the very machines that destroyed them. They didn’t have sewing machines at home, they couldn’t afford them. Simple needles and threads wouldn’t do, and so they came to my museum in their free hours, their lonely hearts longing to see a treadle, a wheel. The machines had disfigured the seamstresses, they put all their beauty and youth into dresses, curtains and suits. It was easy to spot them, the pale skin, the tired eyes with purple half-circles underneath like violent-tinted spectacles, the squinting, their fingers worn thin, almost needles themselves, hidden in cheap gloves, the shaking legs that would have been muscly from pumping had they had more meat to eat.

The museum had a café, where I now went every weekend for anise and pistachio éclairs and coffee in small black and gold cups. The seamstresses sat at the arabesque iron café tables, their legs moving up and down underneath. They wore hats and shoes made out of black cardboard and carried little pouches filled with iron pills or tonic, often given to them by their factories to keep them alive, and took them with their coffee.

‘If you could do a quick sewing job for me, I have a machine, some silk pyjamas that have ripped, what fine fingers you have, I will pay you of course, and give you dinner too, a fine steak, some roast chicken.’

They lost track of time, there were no clocks in my apartment for this purpose, the curtains were shut, the air was heavy from the stove and gas lamps. I worked them for days and they became hypnotized, as did I, watching the beautiful iron limbs of Florence move.

But the point came when, watching the girls wilt with exhaustion, watching the machine consume them, feeling the cloth covered in gold, black, green and red stitches wasn’t enough any longer. I wanted to be involved in the process, to be touched by Florence.

I cut open my leg with a penknife and said to the current seamstress sitting in front of Florence, a weak thing with a thin black braid, ‘Sew it, sew it up, my dear. No, there is no need to call a physician, just sew it up for me, dear, on the machine.’

Without wiping the blood away, I stuck one of my legs underneath, pale with black hairs, like a roll of cloth that had been slept on, and commanded the seamstress to sew, the cold metal of Florence’s flesh poised above me. What relief, what joy, what pain with the first stitch!

They were love bites, to me. They weren’t as legible or as even as the stitches on cloth, but just as beautiful.

Soon, all eight of my legs were covered in stitches and scars, like a ragdoll, Florence’s kisses. The loss of blood weakened me immensely. I started to walk with two canes instead of one, and I partook of iron pills and tonics, just as the seamstresses did. I barely had any appetite for food, I was too lovesick. For my visits to the zoo, I bought a wheeled chaise which one of my servants pushed me in, but otherwise I did not leave my apartments, I refused invitations, no longer did any modelling. Only my creatures in the zoo understood, I thought, my consuming desire for Florence, my endless hunger for cloth covered in her stitches, for her stitches in my flesh. I brought a bag of wigs for the moths, sausages for the rats, and a cage full of kittens for the fleas. I watched them eat, then returned home.

The few times I had visitors over between seamstresses, so as not to raise too many suspicions as I had previously been so sociable, I covered Florence with a cloth. I didn’t want them to see something so intimate to me.

Disposing of used seamstresses was exhausting. I bought a larger stove, saying I suffered more and more from the cold. I couldn’t even ask my servants for help. I let go all but one, who drove my carriage. Visiting my doctor, I was reluctant for him to see my legs. I told him I was attacked by the dog of a woman friend. My doctor told me I had to stop seeing her at once, and to stay away from dogs. I couldn’t afford to lose more blood, I needed more than the average person with my extra appendages; my heart was overworked.

Oh indeed it was, but he did not know how much. He was disgusted by my stitches. What awful, backdoor surgeon had I visited and why? Why did I not visit him, my trusted doctor since childhood? He gave me a bottle of antiseptic liquid to put on the wounds. I vowed never to visit him again.

I had piles of telegrams, invitations, letters, newspapers, but the only thing I read was Florence’s cloth, yes, and her love-bites, I think she is beginning to love me, I feed her, she writes she writes

The last page ends with an indeterminate smudge, whether blood, ink or alcohol, it is too aged for the naked eye to determine.


MYSTERY CLASSICS: THE DEAD TALK TOO MUCH FOR MY TASTE by Jamie Ruff | GBAMLOG.COM

I was so desperate I took a job attending funerals. It’s not as goulash as it sounds. I would open and lock up the church after the funeral. In between, the minister would officiate and comfort the family, but he couldn’t be expected to arrive a couple of hours before the funeral and stay an hour or two after. I was usually there five hours. The pay was decent enough.

The saying is that dead men tell no tales, but they do; and those who attend their funerals tell even more. The departed and the attendees tell everything. His obituary will say he was a faithful husband, but why is his girlfriend sitting on the aisle across from the wife? If he was such a loving father why didn’t his oldest daughter show up, and why doesn’t someone mention her name? If he was such a good husband, why is his wife nearly dancing a jig? I think she killed him. She has the look of someone who has been relived of a burden.

Family and friends, they try to put the best face on the corpse, but I can see it – he, or she, lies right there for all to see; to examine if his illness or age wore away his strength and vitality like his weight. Gaunt faces; sunken eyes; drawn lips, even before they were sown together. Old wrinkled fingers that squeezed pennies or let opportunities slip away.

People want to talk at funerals, especially to someone who doesn’t know. That way they can share it as news to a stranger instead of the gossip it would be to a family member or friend; and if you judge, so what? You’re just some guy waiting for the punch to give out so that the family will go home, never to be seen again. One person tells you the departed’s every accomplishment, but, sooner or later, someone else tells you his faults – maybe not directly, but they will tell. The particulars about the dead are like advertisements for houses, there is far more there than is revealed and the truth is concealed between the lines. She loved children because she had none, and that was because she couldn’t conceive; he riled against abortions because the one he forced a girlfriend to have so long ago still haunted him; he gave generously to good causes but cheated his partner and stole the business; she loved life, but committed suicide; he will be buried beside a wife he was forced to have instead of the man he loved. They will share a headstone the size of a small northern state: beloved wife; beloved husband, it says.

I’m afraid for my own funeral. Not because I’ll be dead, but because all my secrets will be revealed to the stranger sitting in the back of the room waiting to wash out the punch bowl. Who does he think he is?

ROMANCE NON-FICTION: MAY BE IT WAS LOVE by Kwaab | GBAMLOG.COM

Though we never talked but his voice and appearence used to make happy . It was like a special feeling.

So , it was the beginning of my class nine, well my school had two branches and the classes from nine was in other section. Now we had to go by bus to a remote area from main town where the senior section was located. The first day I came to know my class section was changed, I belonged to section c and most of the students in that section were new to me .

On the third period our chemistry teacher asked a question which I don’t remember but I do remember the strong and sweet voice of the person who answered it . He was the boy with 6 fingers . He was long, smart and everything. But the thing was he was sitting in back row so I couldn’t see him even though his voice was something I remember till now.

He came from a village near the school , by cycle. Next day he sat almost next to my desk , and I could now totally see him . I was good at studies so not much but I was well known in my class and he knew me ,that was what I thought. It was very new to me , new feeling .that desire to see him first after entering the class and searching him in the lunch time .

It all started during our English classes .I don’t know why but we like use to stare at each other and smile all the time .we never talked to each other , only used to ask some random bookish questions. His smile was like rain from heaven . I had never stared some one like that before . I mean I had some crushes but none of them were so strong.

Mostly the times when our English teacher used to read novel , everyone used to listen and only we used to stare constantly.

He used to blush everytime he talked to me and me to.

Even after all this neither he got the courage to express his feelings nor I . May be he did expressed but I ignored .It was the end of class and we were waiting for our class to go out and I did heard him saying I love you in my back smiling at me , but it was infront of his friends, I thought that as a joke but may be it was not.

The story has not ended as many of you would thought .

In class 10 we never talked .

Why??

Because my so called freinds gave me the valuable advice to make him my brother by tying a rakhii on his arm and at that time being a boyfriend or girlfriend was a mark for being bad and not smart . It was like signing yourself in teachers bad book.

So I did what they said .ah h I still regret that. Though I never tied the rakhi but I did place it on history wrist and then ran away from there.

Whole class 10th we were awkward. Though the staring was still on .I had now more strong feelings for him now than before . Whenever any teacher used to speak roughly with him , I used to feel bad .

So after this school drama , in 11th when I thought I lost the touch with him I didn’t. What happens in india is that after 10th for 11th and 12th we take coaching . So I also got into coaching. He was not there in starting months but then one day the same voice I heard gave me goosebumps. I was so happy inside .

Though we never talked but his voice and appearence used to make happy . It was like a special feeling. He did tried talking to me . That made my day . Those four years till 12th were very special for me .

Never had that feeling after that. I used to think it was just a crush but may be it was not. I only think good for him and all success to him. Is this a crush ? May be it was .

But what if it was love ,have I lost the love .

I don’t know but hope I meet him seem day before my marriage, so that I could apologise for my childish behavior back then and tell him exactly how I feel for him . Or may be our this story will stay AMAR as his name was .

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