Please Keep Me
(response to the 500 word challenge)
She travelled alone and she travelled light. Anything she had left behind she didn’t need any more. She had her memories and her scars. And she had hope. Her feet hurt her at every step but walking was the only way.
She stuck to the back lanes and footpaths, sometimes holding her life in her hands for a dash across a busy road. She hadn’t eaten all day and hunger made her miserable. She climbed a farmers stile and sat herself on the top rung.
Fields all around. The hum of traffic. Ahead were buildings visible between the branches and trees. A new town. She didn’t look back.
She jumped down from the stile. She walked on, butterflies unfolding themselves startled by her passing. At the boundary foliage she easily leapt the ditch and found herself by a weather beaten fence. She walked along it, following her nose, hoping for a hole.
The sun was showing the first signs of falling. Shadows stretched and leaves and branches hid its glare. The land and the air smelt different from where she had come from. She felt, not fright, but maybe anxiety. She hid it well. Any stranger observing her could tell nothing of her mood.
She walked on.
At last a poorly repaired fence panel, rotting from damp. She pushed through into a smell of ale and sweat. These smells were not unfamiliar but they held no happy memories for her. The low sun was exposed and its sideways glare blinding. She heard male voices and smelt cigarette smoke on the evening air.
She kept to the sparse hedge trying to be as invisible as possible. She managed to keep hidden but to get free of the pub garden she would have to pass very close to a cluster of gesticulating men.
She dashed out and a startled man cried out in surprise and lashed out a foot in reaction. She easily dodged it. This was nothing new. Her light feet made little sound crossing the gravel of the car park but she was suddenly on a busy street. A street she had never seen before. Without stopping she dashed on, across the road and dived behind a tidy privet hedge.
She was still hungry but she was drained and fearful of the strange smells and sensations. She dug herself in under the hedge and cat-napped the dusk and most of the night away.
It was shortly after dawn when she was picking twigs and leaves from the hedge off herself that she heard a child’s voice. She looked over. A little girl in school uniform.
‘Mummy, mummy, a catty! Can we keep her. Can we? Can we?’ She cried out.
She sat dead still as the child approached. Wary but hopeful. She sniffed the hand held out to her and liked it. Milk and cereal. If she’d had fingers she’d had crossed them, thinking please keep me.
About the author
Ford Dagenham likes movies to be 90mins long max.
Posts a poem or pic a day in the blog Hatchbacks on Fire.
Thinks he can speak French impeccably.
Feeds the cat. Has own mass. Believes in alchemy.
Has chapbook A Canvey Island of the Mind by Blackheath Books.
Turns up in PUSH and Paper&Ink and Hand Job zines.
Faced with dilemmas he often runs a bath.
Today he will accidentally absorb news.
Then run a bath.
(I love Ford’s style, his extraordinary-ordinary details that puncture our familiarity with the world, his words… ‘butterflies unfolding’!! HJ)
I like cats so I like this story. I like the ending, leaving us hopeful but not knowing for certain.