Bird on a Wire – Mr Rainbow author Anne Anderson says;
‘Since childhood I’ve been converting hate- mail into poetic verse. However, today I use all my earlier experiences as fodder for my authorial voice. I still love to write poetry but enjoy writing short stories and novels. (No hate-mail, I promise.) I have been published in Bareback magazine, the British Library and have self-published three novels on amazon. Slut Detox, Slapdash Queen and Calamity’s Calling. These three quirky novels follow their chaotic protagonists on adventures, as they make sense of their toxic childhoods to overcome sexually exploitation; Slut Detox deals with prostitution, Slapdash Queen – freedom from divorce, Calamity’s Calling – child sexual abuse. However, you’ll have to read them to discover which one finishes with a happy ending. For no-one can predict the actions of an empowered autonomous person. https://amzn.to/36aBnds
Bird on a Wire
She held my hand and for the first time since shooting my own fingers off, I felt normal as she kissed the space where they were missing. Then she told me how sorry she was. How could I admit a failed robbery? I leaned in to kiss her lips fully knowing that my kiss would erase the shame she still felt after surviving Tuberculosis.
We had been sent onto a residential work-rehabilitation course at an Employment Rehabilitation Centre in Preston for six months. There, we learnt new skills around our disabilities for new ways to re-enter the world of work.
She was so fragile, so precious, so gullible and each day, I’d sponge up her adoration and spend hours locked into her stare.
We’d spend the evenings caressing each other in the communal living room; a patrolled room, with concrete rules to separate the male and female living accommodation. Only once I crossed the line but I learnt that risking losing her would be more that I could ever bear.
We spent November and December evenings kissing under a tartan blanket on the back seat of a friend’s car and I’d warn her not to look up because her eyes were so sparkly she would alert Security. Our nights were insatiable, addictive and inseparable. Then the three week Christmas holiday loomed.
Her family home was in Lancaster, and mine, 297.7 miles away in Aberdeen. My mates were waiting at the station with a catch-up fix and boy! Did it blow my mind? After two and a half weeks, my body nigh-on collapsed. I called her before I boarded the train back to the Rehabilitation Centre.
She sounded weird.
When we met at the train station, it took her awhile to lift her head and look me in the eye, for she has phoned me every day over and over. She had written and cried fearing the worst. It took so many many kisses to make her eyes sparkle again but by nightfall we were unquenchable lovers.
To stop me relapsing again we hatched a plan and asked the travel warrant officer to issue us local warrants at the weekends so we could go to Blackpool instead of the opposite sides of the county. It was agreed so we spent our weekly disablement allowances on a cosy B & B as our reinforced bed bounced from Friday to Sunday nights. Back at the Centre the tartan blanket kept us cosy until our courses finally came to an end in late April. We had shared six months of bodily fluids, trust and devotion and both were returning home more incomplete. We had birthed a love, yet I had never said those three words that had twisted inside my gut for months.
On our final evening she clung to me like a bird on wire so I decided not to say goodbye on a cold train platform. Before she went to bed I kissed her hands, her lips and earlobes and left a note for her in the early morning.
How could I have done that? I could have seen her onto her train, travelled to Lancaster with her but I had to gag myself from spilling those scratchy words. I could have shared my overwhelming love and devotion, instead everything in me wanted to get to the end of the line and the fix that was awaiting me.
As my train waited for boarding passengers at Lancaster, people in my carriage glared as I buried my face in my hands, howling tears. I couldn’t stop them, I couldn’t hide. I could have pulled the emergency cord on the train but I didn’t. I could have exited the train and waited for her to arrive. We could have held hands and walked through this life together but instead I rolled up my fiver and craved meeting my friends. Eventually three months passed.
When I sobered up, my grandmother gave me a pile of handwritten letters and said that the phone had never stopped ringing and could I do something to finally finish with this girl? All I could hear was the battle inside my heart screaming ‘I love you,’ and the voices telling me, I was crazy. My tears blotted on the paper.
Dearest Bruce, Talk to me Bruce. What has happened? I’m so frightened and worried. Doesn’t my love mean anything? Why beautiful Bruce?
Eventually I picked up the receiver and called her.
No words came, she could only cry. Cry with relief, weep with loss, but the gagging tears stopped her questions and my lies from coming. Instead I told her about the drugs that had killed my friend and she cried with release that they hadn’t killed me.
Yet again she’d made me come to my senses. She didn’t even want an apology. I needed to be home inside her softness. We arranged to meet in two days, halfway at Edinburgh station.
I stole the train fare from Grandma and wore my red tartan shirt that she loved. Excitedly I boarded the train. As it pulled into Waverley station I saw her in a tight pencil skirt. She must have got an earlier train. No longer was she a tomboy, she was standing elegant on tip toes and looking into every window. My train slowed to a halt. Her breasts were high and her legs coated in satin; with heels on, she’d been reformed. She was an even more dignified, healthy beautiful lady. Her fingernails were painted red and were long. She clenched her suitcase’s handle. My inner voice told me to hurry and not to let her lift that case but instead I found myself hiding in the train doorway watching her gently pull it in the opposite direction. I remember becoming aroused at the sway of her hips.
Why did I hide in that train’s doorway and not call her name? Why did I walk up to the driver’s carriage and sneak outside? Why did I hide behind a telephone box and watch her pace up and down, gawping into every window of the long train. I wanted my actions to become a romantic joke and to surprise her, but when the guard blew his whistle and the train reversed, her body slumped. Inelegantly she collapsed to the floor curling into a ball beside her case. She resembled an abandoned tramp and I couldn’t reach out to her.
A guard patted me on the shoulder.
‘Is everything ok? Sir?’ I nodded and pointed up ahead towards her. He ran forward and threw his jacket over her shoulders. I slinked away and clicked my ticket into the turnstile and exited.
In the station foyer I stood suckling a cappuccino, my head bowed. The guard radioed first aiders and a wheelchair replaced what should have been my arms. They pushed her past the cafe window and I lip-read the guard,
‘He’ll be on the next train.’ With the back of her hands she wiped thick make-up off her beautiful face. It should have been my lips removing my pain, but instead lots of voices whirred.
‘Get her a sweet cup of tea.’ He ordered Trisha, the lady wearing a name badge.
‘I’ll take her to the ladies room to freshen up. Just wait and see Hen, he’ll be on the next train, its due in an hour.’
As every second passed, my mind repeated, ‘you have to do this don’t you dare go outside? You don’t deserve her.’ I knew it, they knew it, and everyone knew it. I slugged away into the bustle of Rose Street.
Later I felt like I was seeing a mirage above me, I recognised her slender stockinged calves from the cold floor of Edinburgh bus station. She threw some coins into my outstretched hand, she didn’t even recognise me.
Alloa was the name on the front of the bus she caught; I’ll never forget its number – 23A. I guess she went to her Scot’s cousins for the night and that was the last time I ever saw her.
A few months later I went into Gran’s and was told I had another stack of letters. I used Gran’s phone and after three rings I heard her sad throaty voice. She coughed like an old man before she found words to tell me her side of this story.
Excitedly, she’d caught an earlier train and waited for three hours before my train arrived. When I hadn’t shown, the railway guard took her to the bus station and put her on a bus to her cousins in Alloa.
She had collapsed breathless on her doorstep and a doctor was called because one lung had collapsed with trauma. After six weeks of bed-rest and convalescence she returned to Lancaster to begin to start a new life again.
I lied. I told her I’d been arrested the night before and the police wouldn’t bail me in time.
Ever since, I pray my dreams will take me to the wire where she sits. Then I will rest beside her within her sparkly stare. Our lips will touch and my black feathers will be replaced with colours and all will be well for eternity.
Held captive within his last bellowing tantrum, the world starts to slide. I taste blood. My tongue scratches around and finds a broken tooth. Outside he continues yelling. Emma’s words ring true – his actions have come from earlier thoughts.
Instead of being riddled with guilt, through the door’s spy-hole I watch the movie he is creating for posterity outside. There he is, no longer my king, but a marching warrior and he is about to take it out on our untouchable rusted gate. It attempts to move, as my tongue attempts to soothe. Net curtains twitch all around. It finally clanks off and down to the pebbled path. He roars.
‘This is my house, my kids.’ I turn my back to the door and him and push the stiff bolt across. A putrid stench of Joop’s muskiness rises up from the maroon glass covered carpet. I’m not sad that it missed his head. I start collecting shards of glass. The pebbles under his feet outside crunch.
He’s coming back. Please, no more begging. I can’t take you back again.
Our hollow eyed children, one small enough to smell the musk, the other not-so, glare. Ziggy shirks from my soothing hand. He bolts away to his favourite place, the top stair. With hands on knees Ruby comforts his shaking body. She folds him into hers. They stare downwards. I am wallpaper, an apathetic norm. I want to yell that this
is for everyone’s benefit, it’s cruel to live this way. No words come.
The shingle noise has stopped.
‘Go tidy your Lego and then we’ll have beans on toast.’ I smile, but it is not returned.
‘I hate beans.’ Ziggy groans.
‘Well, you better get used to them.’
In panic, I run towards the kitchen door at the back of the house. With rattling hands I bolt it too. I see the window is open an inch. I can’t move. My legs lock as I feel the hair on the back of my neck raise. He’s somewhere.
Sugary, I call to the kids to see if they are OK. There’s no reply. There’s not a sound. On the top stair they still haven’t moved. Their eyes cast blame.
Outside our fence whistles as if a hurricane is approaching. The back gate rattles. He’s kicking the gate free. His foot’s now making shapes in the back door. It wasn’t my imagination.
I pelt upstairs and cocoon the kids. Ruby’s nails scratch my face like an ice cut. I clasp her hands. Everything’s throbbing – our worlds, our bodies, our eardrums. If someone held a megaphone to my heart, it’d be a drum roll. The booming and banging outside continues. I cover Ziggy and Ruby’s little ears with my arms. Ruby wrestles me wanting to help Daddy, but I make her stay.
She’s only five but she manages to hit my arm out of the way. How was I to know I was hurting her? I blow hot air onto her ear but she screams – your breath stinks. There are lots of sirens nee-nawing outside. I try to stop Ziggy running to the window to see them.
Spider’s still outside, his coarse voice is revolutionary through our letter box.
‘Out –out – you lying bitch.’ I loudly count backwards. ‘Twenty. Nineteen. Eighteen. Seven…..’
‘This is my house, my kids.’ My vagina’s tight. I’m guessing the police are close. There’s rustling. There’s crashing. Things are being banged. Don’t dent the car. A sliding van door loudly shudders. There’s swearing mixed in with respectful ‘Sirs.’ The metal door slams. There’s metal van walls being kicked. Last time it was my face.
Freedom tears overspill and the diesel van roars.
Ruby’s face is tear-stained and black. The loud diesel van disappears into the distance.
Ziggy’s long blonde curls resemble white chocolate. The thunder’s travelling back to where it came from.
Sixteen. Fifteen. Fourteen.
A cold silence soaks into my bones. As I sit still, inner dark voices begin to boom in my mind. Chanting, roaring, like steam trains, chuffing up hills.
It’s had to be done Scarlet’s way. Scarlet’s way, Scarlet’s way.
It’s had to be done Scarlet’s way. Scarlet’s way, today.
Scarlet is always right, always right, always right.
But Scarlet is – not right.
Not right in the head today.
Six weeks and a court injunction later, my pity-party King moved in with another naive divorcee and three young girls. I thank the universe for making me, make him, have the snip.
Determined not to marry an Arab and spend my life behind a hijab, like my friend. I plan to take myself to church but stop off first at spiritualists.
First out of his pack of cards was the Devil.
‘There were three people in your marriage.’
Second, was the World?
‘Luck is coming your way.’
“I can see a man with a ‘J’ in his name. He has military in his background, and a connection to number 5.’