Dear Diary, 2019

organizer-791939_1920

Dear Diary,

I looked around the small kitchen, surprised at the mess a small New Year’s Eve party of people could make. There were abandoned plastic cups and glasses lying about almost the reminds of plastic plates of food.

The lingering of smell of burnt sausage rolls clung in the air. I went across and opened the window. It was almost lunchtime and the dapple of sunlight had cleared the touch of frost that had appeared around 2 or 3 AM. I touched my head, still pounding with a migraine and breathed the chilly air in.

The will to start tidying up was strong but I didn’t think my body would let me. I opened the cupboard, dug around until I found the last clean cup at the back and I got some cold water from the tap. I had all ready taken some pain killers and it was too soon to take anymore. A little food might help but I couldn’t even think about that now. I finished the water, got some more and went back up to bed.

There I snuggled back down, sipping the water and waiting to feel better. My thoughts were fuzzy at first but then I started to recall bits of the party.

Someone, probably, Annie’s boyfriend, which was just a normal thing for him, had brought a blow up sex doll and the men had all had a great time messing around with that and being rather crude. I at last had, had enough.

I took the safety pin out of the hem of my nineties themed mini dress and popped the doll and whilst Emily distracted them all by showing off her huge boobs, which was just typical of her to do something like that, especially after a few drinks and a little nudge from me.

‘Lookie here boys! Check out these real puppies!’ she had shouted then pulled the neon pink tube top she was wearing up.

Heads had turned, voices shouted in joy. I had dumped the doll back on the sofa and sneaked off.

I smiled and reflected how good that had been.

The idea of a nineties themed party hadn’t been mine but Linda’s who was still celebrating her thirtieth birthday which had been two days previously. Right now, she would be waiting for plane to take her to New York. I wish I was going on holiday! I could barely afford my rent right now though and was out of my head with trying to find a new housemate or two.

I so don’t want to think about that right now, so back to the party and what else had happened?

More people had arrived then planned, friends bring friends and people who said they weren’t coming but then did anyway! I had made sure to ask everyone to bring drinks and food with them, so we had more then enough of that.

My few drinks before everyone arrived kicked in and I shared a few cocktails with my girls. Then I served up the food and was happy to watch everyone tuck in. It was all shop brought stuff, I’d had no time to make anything but no one seemed to care.

Then there was dancing and talking and meeting people and just fun moments. Some had knocked over the Christmas tree, someone else had almost flood the bathroom by blocking the sink and letting the tap run. I think at one point someone had come in carrying a cat they had run over which actually turned out to be someone’s fluffy hat!

Getting drunk and dancing to nineties classic songs like we were teenagers again. We had been singing so loud that a few dogs had started barking their heads off! Then some sensible, probably, geeky Nicky, had turned the music off and told us the party was over.

I had felt super hungry and decided to see what food was left. I found some sausage rolls and put them in the oven. Then people had been leaving, taxis had been coming and going, everyone was hugging and kissing me, then Sally had tripped and hurt her ankle. Ice was needed then her husband said he would take her to hospital as we didn’t know if she had broken it or not. She was making enough noise for it to seem so!

Then Nicky came rushing in, ‘I think something is burning in the kitchen!’

I had spring up and rushed in to find Linda opening the oven and pulling out a tray with black stuff on it.

‘I forgot those!’ I cried.

We had laughed and Linda had thrown them outside.

I don’t remember coming to bed, but I must have done around 3 or 4 AM.

It had been a good party and a great way to start the New Year. Now, my migraine has cleared I should go and tidied up.

The Crying

England, Terraced House, Stone Facade, Masonry, Facade

Bradley paused and listened again. The faint crying of a baby brushed his ears once more. He looked over at the wall next to him, with its slightly peeling and faded floral paper and old family photographs. The noise seemed to be coming from behind there. He wondered if someone had finally moved in next door. He tried to remember if he had seen any signs this morning or before when he came back from work.

The crying stopped and Bradley, with a shrug, unmuted the TV and started eating his pasta ready meal. The news was full of the latest political scandals, murders and weather. Bradley hurried through his food, trying not to notice the gloopy, bland taste. He turned the TV channels over and turned on his game console.

The crying came again, muted only slightly by the single brick wall between the houses. The wailing noise rose and fall and Bradly couldn’t help but think about a baby in a cot seeking comfort. Shaking his head, he got back to his game, the sound of gun fire blocking out any more noise.

He went to bed far too late. The creaking of the stairs in what had once been his grandfather’s house, but was now his, seemed to accuse him of laziness. Getting ready for bed, Bradley just knew he was going to be grumpy for work in the morning. He flipped back the covers and stopped. The baby was crying again, only it seemed to be directly behind the bedroom wall now. Bradley walked over and put his hand on the wall then his ear. There was most defiantly a baby living next door to him now.

Groaning, he got into bed and put a pillow over his head. Luckily, he was far too tried and drifted off quickly.

His phone alarm clock broke into Bradley’s dreamless sleep. He reached out and turned it off before rolling over and snuggling back down. He awoke suddenly minutes later and hurried out of the bed, nearly tripping in his desperation. Flying through his morning routine and skipping breakfast, he dashed out of the house and into his ancient red Mini.

Driving, he had no other thoughts other than to get to work on time and he did barely make it. Dropping into his chair, he dragged a few breaths of stale, coffee scent air then cracked open the window next to his desk. He spent a few moments straighten his black tie, white crinkled shirt and trying to flatten down his mop of blond hair.

‘Morning, Brad.’

He brought his hand down and nodded at Mark, the only real friend he had in this Hell hole.

‘Sleep okay? Looks like you didn’t,’ Mark chucked.

‘I think someone moved in next door,’ Bradley began.

‘Oh yeah?’

‘They have a baby,’ he finished.

‘Damn. Unlucky. When my neighbour had her brat it kept me up all night too. You’re going to have to invest in some ear plugs, my friend,’ Mark stated and patted Bradley on the shoulder.

Mark walked to his own desk, which was behind Bradley’s and began shuffling papers around. Bradley nodded and looked down at his clutched desk. Too much work with left over from yesterday and he knew today’s would have to wait.

‘Hey, you coming to the pub tonight?’ Mark called out.

‘Maybe,’ Bradley replied over his shoulder then threw himself into his job.

 

Work done for the day, Bradley couldn’t talk himself out of going to the pub even though he didn’t feel like it. He sank into a plush sofa that felt too hard and still stank of cig smoke though the ban had been years ago. He nursed his pint and thought about all the trouble he was going to be in on Monday. He couldn’t risk getting fired; there were too many outstanding bills of his grandfather’s left to pay. Someone brought another round just as he had finished his first and he couldn’t refuse a free drink.

It was late by the time he left, the sky was dark with clouds and no stars or moon peered down. Bradley got into his car, sure he was over the limit as he put the key in. He drove back straight enough, with the street lamps flashing by like a count down. A light rain started falling as he pulled up outside his house.

Getting out, he wobbled up to the terrace house on the end and let himself in. He stumbled in the dark upstairs and into his bedroom. There he threw himself on the bed, grabbing pillows and blankets to wrap himself in. He was fast sleep when the crying began.

In the morning, his head hurt so much, it took him a while to clock the sounds of crying coming from the wall. He sat in the living room, sipping too hot coffee and regretting last night. He put a hand to his head and thought about the fact he could have gone into work and tried to catch up on everything. The baby screamed.

‘Shut up!’ he yelled and almost threw his coffee at the wall.

Instead, he splashed it down and stormed to the front door. Opening it, he walked out and around to the gate of the next house, he went through and was at the front door before he realised that the front bay windows were boarded up and so was the front door. A for sale sign stuck up from the front fence and the street was as silent as ever.

Unclenching his hands, Bradley looked about confused then quickly left. Going through his house, he went out the back door and looked over the wired fence that divided the two gardens. He could clearly see the boarded up back door and windows of the house next door. Wondering what was going on, he went back in then out onto the street once more. Maybe a neighbour had had a baby and the noise was carrying a lot?

Undecided, he went back in and spent the day being too hungover to do much else. As evening came through, he heard the crying of a baby once more. Getting up, he went to the living room wall and really listened. The noise was just too loud and there could be no doubt it was coming from next door.

Maybe, squatters got in somehow? He thought.

Grabbing the phone he dialled the police and told them what he now believed.

‘I’ll send someone around as soon as I can,’ the too cheery female voice on the other end replied.

Bradley hung up and turned the TV on to block out the noise.

The knocking at his door came hours later and it was now dark outside. Bradley let the two male officers in and told them about the baby crying. Together they went to the front then the back of the house, looking for away in. The wooden board was nailed down too well and no corner had come away at any of the doors or windows. There was no access inside.

‘Maybe it’s an animal they left behind?’ one of the officers suggested.

‘I don’t know,’ Bradley replied, ‘I’ve been here four years now and before that it must have been empty for about six years or so…would a pet survive that long?’

‘No,’ the other policemen put in, ‘it could be a wild animal that has got stuck though. We’ll get the RSPCA and come back tomorrow.’

‘It just doesn’t sound like an animal though…’ Bradley muttered as the cops left.

He went back inside and got into bed. As soon as his head touched the pillow the crying started again. Growling, Bradley put the other pillow over his face and tried to ignore it.

Finally the morning arrived. He awoke, sore eyed and tried as if he’d had another night drinking. The sound of hammering and a drill buzzed through his head. Scrambling up, he threw on some clothes and rushed outside. A police car, an RSPCA van and a locksmith’s van were parked outside.

He looked across and saw a burly man removing the board over the front door. Two different police men and a female animal inspector were standing next to the gate, watching him work. Bradley eager though he was to join them, decided to stay where he was and just watch. Soon the locksmith had gotten in and they all entered the building.

It seemed to take forever, but at last the animal inspecting came out. She was gulping down air and looking very pale. She walked down the path and back to her van, where she rested against it as if trying not to throw up.

‘What did you find? Was it an animal?’ Bradley called out.

She looked at him, wiped her hair back then got into the van. Starting the engine, she drove off, leaving Bradley more puzzled. He went and lent on the wall to try and peer into the now open front door, but he couldn’t see anything. For a few minutes, he debated jumping over and going inside to see for himself, but then the locksmith and cops appeared.

‘What was it?’ he asked.

The cops looked at him, whilst the locksmith hurried off as if desperate to be far away.

‘I was the one that phoned about the baby crying last night,’ Bradley explained.

‘Oh…did you know the people who lived here?’ one of the officers asked.

‘No. I never saw them and I never asked my grandad about it,’ Bradley answered.

‘All right then, I’ll go and call it in,’ the second policeman said.

‘Wait, wait! What was it?’ Bradley shouted.

The two cops eyed each other, then the second walked away as the first turned to him, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this,’ he said a low voice, ‘but we found the mummified remains of three babies…..Now, are you sure you know nothing about the people who lived here?’

Bradley shook his head, too shocked to open his mouth.

Bedazzled Part 2

Ice, Cocktail, Glass, Drink, Alcohol, Cold, Beverage

She stared into her drink, knowing just what the man smiling and chatting her up was after. Though, with a glance at her best friend who was talking to someone else, she also guessed what he’s real intentions were. Sighing, she wondered if for once she’d met a man who wanted her for her and not just her body or better yet to get in her best friend’s pants.

Deciding she had no choice, she finished her drink and smiled brightly before making an excuse and leaving.

Blind Date

I hesitate and a stop before the door. There is still time to turn around and go back. I look over my shoulder and watch the night crowds hurrying about. Each person or group of people seems caught up in their own worlds. Laughter fills the air alongside happy voices and the tapping of shoes. I turn back, sweeping away my fringe and give myself a pep talk.

Now, Ash there’s nothing to worry about, be brave, be normal. Be yourself. Have a good time, live it up a little. Try and stay lady-like, be polite. Don’t let them pay for all the drinks and don’t get drunk. If anyone offers you anything, even a lift home or to find you a taxi, say no. You don’t want what happened last time again, do you? No, don’t even think about it. Don’t go there. Stay with the now and let the past lay where it belongs, in the past.

I reach out for the door and notice my hand shaking, but before I can drop my arm back down, my fingers and palm are touching the door. I don’t have an option, but to open the door and go inside, or else I’m going to look like Superwoman trying to throw down with an unlocked door. Cue national embarrassment.

The door opens easily and I enter a noisy and packed bar. Some old rock ‘n’ roll music is playing in the background, almost to itself because no one is really here to listen to tunes. A woman in a tight pink frilly dress appears at my elbow and looks me over. Without speaking, I pull a folded sheet of paper from my handbag and offer it to her.

‘You’re late,’ she says in a matter of tone voice, that reminds me of a teacher’s.

‘I’m sorry. The bar is not the easiest to find. That map I received was badly drawn,’ I counter back using my best teacher voice.

The woman huffs at me and ticks something- my name- off the clipboard she is holding.

‘Your first drink is free. Show this at the bar,’ she declares and hands me a slip of paper.

She turns and walks through the crowd, a slight shake of her head and no doubt mouthing something bad about me.

I clutch the paper and my handbag as I stand like a statue and cast my eyes around the room. Men and woman are stood in pairs or groups, hands holding drinks and chatting away. I feel like an intruded, an uninvited guest at a party. I need to blend, just like I did in high school with pastels on a canvas.

I walk to the bar, lay my free drink paper on the damp, worn wooden surface and eye up the bartenders. They look like teenage boys, fresh from college and dressed like penguins. They are moving like hummingbirds though and their dancing movements as they serve drinks fascinates me. My turn comes and I order a rum and coke.

My eyes drift to the side and I see a group of four men, who have clearly come together. I don’t know how I know that, but I guess it’s from the way they are acting. It looks all ‘pal’ like and young men gawking at skirt and daring each other to be the first to talk to her. They are breaking the rules, you are meant to come alone.

I shake my head and sip my drink. Turning around results in no handsome prince bumping into me, just the view of the door and a cluster of people. I have to drift. Standing by the bar just looks odd, especially in this scene. I weave my way around people and hear snatches of conversation. The standard topics for people first meeting and being on a blind date. What’s your name? How old are you? What’s your star sign? Who are your family? Likes? Dislikes? Funny joke, that isn’t actually funny and you’re heard a billion times. Cheese chat up lines; here’s some money, go phone your mom and tell her you’re not coming home tonight.

I find an empty table and sit down on a straight back chair. I take a mouthful of rum and coke, swallow and take another. I’m probably going to need some more to get me through. I place my glass down and watch Cupid flapping about the room. He needs to shot an arrow my way for a change.