Rhiannon Owens

Rhiannon moved to Merthyr Tydfil from the North-West of England after bagging herself a handsome Welsh boy, Nicholas.  She loves her cat, her mid-life crisis dresses, reading and making her messy garden look even worse. As well as working on solo writing projects Rhiannon has had four poetry books published along with her writing partner, the super talented Ashley O’Keefe:
* Rhianno & Asley – A Voyage of Poetic Discoveries
* Rhianno & Asley – Seeking Poetic Lands
* Rhianno & Asley – Seeing with Poetic Eyes
* Rhianno & Asley – Searching Across Poetic Sands
She has also had her work featured in several anthologies and is about to (tentatively) dip her toe into doing a bit of spoken poetry. 

‘Ashley is a wonderful writer but more than that… without his support I would have given up!’

Torrents

... and the rain never stopped
a flood of biblical proportions,
the water surged around my ankles
and it rose and rose,
slamming against my hips,
I struggled
and heard the cat's piteous mew...
slung her across my shoulders
like a ladies fancy fur,
and the ark was in sight
rocking madly on this crazy sea,
the air alive with braying, 
howling, 
tweeting, 
growling... 
but the rain streamed into my eyes
as I groped blindly forward,
and the cat seemed to be weighing me down,
soft rumble of a purr
becomes a maniacal cackle,
I'm wading, reaching
but that wooden refuge
is swept away,
creaking alarmingly...
Two by two,
I'm sucked into the whirlpool,
the last thing I see
is the cat clinging to the slats, 
tail curled in triumph
with its gleaming Cheshire grin
reflecting off stormy waters...


Pretty Pretty Buttons

Hard to pinpoint exactly when it started with the buttons. I mean, in hindsight the whole smartie thing should’ve given me an inkling, but then what do smarties and buttons have in common really?

Ah! How I laughed when she first prattled on about how smarties might not have the answer after all, that in fact it might only be buttons that have the answers.

“What? Chocolate buttons?” I said, with understandable confectionary confusion … and she laughed, and oh, how she laughed!

“Noooo you donkey” she snorted “real buttons, actual functional, cardigan fastening buttons” then a little dreamily she added “Pretty pretty buttons.” She gazed up at me, eyes all agleam, big and dark (dare I say like bright, shiny buttons?).

     I didn’t have a bloody clue what she was yammering on about, but we’d had a couple of bottles of shiraz between us, and everything was nice and mellow. Oh, how we laughed!

      She was my best friend and she really, REALLY loved smarties. Hard to describe, but she used to pop those babies like pills. Then she’d melt into some kind of choccy bliss. Those sainted smarties. Then the bad times came. The big changeover which led to her wandering dazedly all over town, chanting ‘Rowntree Rowntree Rowntree’ like some kind of messianic mantra ‘Always Rowntree’.

      Worse was when the old style tubes were banned in schools (because kids would shoot the plastic tops at classmates in earnest attempts to take out an eye or two), and then in the shops (new environmental packaging initiative thingy). She went downhill fast.

      We didn’t see her for three weeks, but there were reports, sightings of her foraging through bins in search of plastic smartie tops, even snatching smartie tubes from smaller retailers that hadn’t yet sold off the old stock.

      We eventually found her gibbering in the park where she was attempting to build herself a house out of the plastic tops and cardboard tubes (with no great success it has to be said, what with the rain and legcocking dogs!).

      She seemed to turn a corner, no longer hopped up on smarties, but … well, here we are in that fine pub chain beginning with ‘W’ and ending in ‘spoons’ and she’s got that crazy, swirly eye thing going on again. Her voice is barely restrained as she leans across her pint, grabs my hand and stage whispers “What if smarties don’t have the answer. I always believed that only smarties have the answer. ‘They’ told me,” she pauses, takes a long pull of lager “Buttons. What if buttons were smarties?”

I try to keep hold of the fragile conversational thread.

“Well…” I offer tentatively “if smarties were buttons….”

Her hand slams onto the table “No no no” she hisses, then “NO NO NO” teeth bared aggressively “if Buttons WERE SMARTIES!”

I tried to take stock of the difference but must confess that it rather eluded me.

“Think about it. Buttons! No more E numbers. No more counting calories. They’d never ever melt either, and I could eat as many as I wanted!”

      Like a magician she whips a bag out of God knows where and upends it. Hundreds upon hundreds of colourful buttons bounce and roll across the table. In a myriad of colours. Every colour of the rainbow, and many more besides. Every shade, every hue … but all round, I notice. Every last one. As uniform and round as… (“smarties?”).

“Plastic is the new chocolate” she trills gaily as she surveys the treasure trove of buttons in front of her, like Al Pacino in Scarface if y’know, buttons were cocaine. Or cocaine buttons … and she tosses a handful into her mouth, swallowing them like so many paracetamol.

“Erm, okay right” I tried, hesitated “Ummmm so will you be sewing smarties onto your clothes then?”

Her eyes narrowed. Much less button-like now I noted with relief.

“Do not mock” she said standing up, and with a quick imperious sweep of her arm the buttons were back in the bag.

“Things are changing” she hissed, and then legged it out of the pub, leaving me sitting like a numpty, pint halfway to my mouth. My bloody big mouth!

    Kicking myself for my insensitive button/smartie remarks, and more than a little concerned about her wellbeing, I set down my beer and followed her outside. She was nowhere in sight, but something crunched beneath my foot, wait … yes! There in the dusk, illuminated by poor street-lighting was a Hansel and Gretel style trail of plastic buttons. Where will it lead, and will it end more happily than the fairytale?

       That button trail seemed to go on for hours and hours. How many buttons can fit in one unremarkable bag for goodness sake! The park lay ahead and that made some kind of bizarre sense. Like a full circle thing.

      I moved slowly forward in trepidation, the little buttons twinkled invitingly at me by the light of a full moon. ‘Oh those bright, beauteous buttons’ I thought a little deliriously, and sniggered, then sang it out loud.

      Suddenly, out of the shadows some kind of fortress loomed large. No paltry attempt at a smartie house this. A fort of buttons. Actually, a veritable Kingdom of buttons!

      “I knew you would come.”

I heard her first, recognised her voice, though it was different now. Thicker, more synthetic. More … rounded?

I peered at the big button building and she emerged from the half light, a huge beam on her face …. her big, bright red, button-face. Come to think of it she was just a face. No arms, nor legs to speak of. Just a big plastic button, rolling toward me, then swivelling again to beam at me front on. Then rolling, then a pivot, a grin, a roll and so on.

I was paralysed. Frozen to the spot.

      “It is time” she intoned with plasticity, trailing threads of cotton in her wake like wispy tendrils of hair “for you to decide which side you are on. No more glib comments. Choose.”

“I … I don’t understand” I stammered, though a sinking feeling in my belly told me I did. Then as thousands of teeny, tiny buttons, zips, and press studs (and other fasteners whose names evade me) rolled, sprang and yes ‘zipped’ out of the kingdom behind their giant button Queen, I knew instinctively what I would see behind me.

      I whipped my head round, and there out of the trees marched forth soldiers, whole battalions. A smartie army. A smartie army hellbent on vanquishing the button vanguard.

“Armageddon” I whispered in awe.

“Yesssss” the button behemoth hissed “The final stand!”

“I stand with you!” I declared with faux confidence, even as my knees knocked together and a trickle of urine traced a path down my right leg. For was not this button my friend?

She exhaled deliciously and smiled slowly “So be it” she said, and the smile spread across her buttony face (and it wasn’t a very nice smile at all!) until it became a grinning, screaming maw.

      That’s when the trickle of urine became a rushing river of piss, an ocean of steaming fear.

I had made the wrong choice I finally realised as I looked upon the visage of a button, only to find myself staring into the perfectly round, cold blankness of brown smartie eyes.

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