Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: writing (Page 1 of 15)

A Dream of a Beach

(A semi-true story. The feelings are real.)

I feel the pull back to familiarity. There is a soft, furry body lying alongside me. Early risers; those getting children to school or off early to miss the worst of the traffic slam car doors or call loudly from the street to someone still inside.

 

I keep my eyes closed, not ready to let go of the feelings of my dream even though the images are still to coalesce in my mind. Loss. Longing.

 

I dreamed of a beach.

 

I was on my way home, walking through familiar streets, totally confident that I knew the way. I greeted passers-by and smiled and waved. And then I took a different path between two pale and old buildings, following a kitten who had looked at me with recognition on its dirty ginger face.

 

Then I was staring at a beach.

 

I remember thinking in my dream that my street had been close to the sea, right up until a hundred years ago. Woodstock Beach had been filled with swimmers, fishermen and strollers. I remember seeing black and white photos suspended on metal wires in a trendy, retro craft gin store. And I remembered this in my dream. I remembered that I drive on Beach Road.

 

In my dream this was Woodstock Beach. Accessible only to me. I alone knew that it was right there, a few metres from home. Nobody in today’s world would ever find it. It was safe. Our secret.

 

Between the grey, crumbling dolosse birds had made nests. A white whale skeleton formed a ghost wedding arch in the sand. Gentle, pretty seaweed and crusty mussels grew in a rockpool. Another was filled with giant purple and ruby red gem stones. I looked down at my feet making soft dunes where I walked. At the water’s edge I turned around to look back. The city was a smouldering, crumbling urban monster. It was exploding in a disorganisation of more building, more development, more greed.

 

I saw an old woman wave at me from under the frame of a beach umbrella. She looked like she had always been there although I had only noticed her in that moment.

 

I wanted to stay. I started taking my clothes off to get into the water but up close the surface was densely packed with completely transparent plastic bottles.

 

“You can walk on it, but you can’t swim” yelled the woman. Now she was surrounded by crime tape, held by four estate agent boards. She stood up and I saw her police uniform.

 

I thought about leaving and my heart shuddered. If I left I would never find this secret Woodstock beach again. I started scooping the sand in my hand, the damp sand. Could I build a house here? There was nothing to make it with. A hole. I would dig a hole.

A Poem for My Gran and the World

My gran

A long Craven A cigarette with two centimetres of ash

Hanging, hands free, from her lip

Would say

“Too terrible”

When she would recount the hopeless relationships

In the soapies she followed.

“Too terrible” was also for the callers who phoned in

to talk shows with their incurable aches and pains.

My gran could relate.

She said “too terrible” about the food at the function

Which was mostly inedible – she had tried all the cakes to make sure.

And a special, drawn out “too terrible” was reserved

For the fashions of the day, worn by me

The first-born grandchild with “a mind of her own, mind you”.

“Too terrible” was for how she felt after a restless night,

Or how the Joburg summer heat made sweat bead on her upper lip

Or darken her silk neckline.

And it was “too terrible” the way people were treated,

Or the way others drove, or hooted, or slammed on brakes.

 

My gran, whose telephone voice

And jewellery box, and teiglach I miss

Managed to capture a helpless, hilarious, and most deep humanity

In those words, “too terrible”

It’s “too terrible for words”.

Story

I am thinking about stories, telling them, remembering them, listening to them, sharing them and even being in them. They are my work, blood, passion and entertainment.

And, I want to write about them. I am writing lots of stories at the moment, but none are in first person, even though everything I write is informed by me. But I also just want to write about my stuff. So this is a true story about last night.

I pitched up at my friend Leonard just before 6pm. He lives close to town, and we were waltzing off to What if the World gallery in Buiten Street to an exhibition opening. We decided to walk; something I don’t do often, especially in the evening.

We did a brisk trot down Long Street; avoiding looking like tourists and the accompanying people who have a long story of their own about why you need to help them.

The gallery lights spilled down the ramp way/steps of what used to be where people drove their cars for fixing. It’s a gorgeous clean space, with levels and grey floors, and special gallery lights. Pink bubbles were served in short stylish cylinders. Brilliant and provocative art (from white men) bounced off the walls and filled the spaces and were viewed by a slick, chic and exceptionally gorgeous segment of Cape Town’s white art viewers. I had a moment of feeling I was in Norway.

Then we scurried further down Long Street to Church Street for another exhibition opening; a friend of a friend’s friend. Another space, this time darkly lit with the focus on the finest lined drawings by Marsi van der Heuwel. I liked the tiny lines.

We crossed the pedestrian road to AVA. At last. Actual black people; both artists and attendees. I fell in love with Nkosinathi Quwe‘s work; huge brilliant paintings depicting rituals. This is what he says about himself and his work. “Nkosinati Quwe is a painter who considers himself a visual messenger carrying the ancient story of the people – telling stories that have been told before, but from his perspective…”

Upstairs I got sucked in to watching a video installation. I think the artist was Mexican. A man collected bricks from rubble, built a kind of wall, made wooden squares, set them on fire, then smashed the wall. I became entranced with the sounds. For the first time I understood the weird and pervasive contemporary phenomenon of the people who make those brushing, licking, scratching videos – ASMR – autonomous sensory meridian response.

Then, from the balcony I played a delicious mime game with a toddler on the ground floor. We pretended to throw and catch things to and from each other. We laughed.

Leonard and I spilled back onto the street and walked with purpose, ignoring the woman who needed me to get her milk and bread for her toddler please mam, not for me mam, but for my child. The irony was not lost. We entered the safe and most absolutely Cape Town Royale Eatery; for me a vegan burger, and for Leonard a bunless meat but no carbs option. The irony was further not lost.

It was a huge and delicious meal. I was so glad to have been there after such a long time. Afterwards I said to Leonard that we would have to run up the road I was so stuffed full. We started a brisk walking jog. A big black man shouted out “Easy!” I told Leonard, “I think he thinks we are afraid of him.” On the next corner another young black man approached us. “Hey, why did you guys run? Are you scared? Are you Jewish? I can see you are Jewish!”

It was Tebogo, a young Sotho man from the North West. We chatted on the corner, getting to know each other. We explained our full tummies, and he explained his love of Jewish people. Leonard and I also had to explain that we weren’t a couple. It was a complicated, confusing, fabulous and fresh chat; on the corner of Kloof and Rheede.

I jumped into my car. Talk radio was all about fynbos. I switched off so I could listen to the world while I drove. I was remembering what Leonard had reminded me of; the Chinese scientists who had come to Sutherland, known for its pristine skies and also for its quiet, so they could listen to the sound of the world turning.

Reginald Dwyer

Here’s another product of my writing group. Many of the elements used to thread the story together were prompts. See if you can identify them.

Reginald threw the watch into the disappointingly calm sea. He imagined feeling something huge. Instead he watched as the thing sunk like a stone, and because the water was so unexcited, he saw it plonk on the sandy bottom and stay there, suddenly motionless. He turned and huffed his way along the beach, squinting at the sunset and glowering at the couples looped in each other’s arms and kissing, eyes closed. His twingy hip alerted him to the fact that the beach was sloped, and the fine sand was filling and emptying in his brogues as he walked. Suddenly, and without any warning to himself, he grabbed at his shoes, ripping them from his feet to reveal his beige and brown diamond socks. He hated them the minute he saw them and tore them from his feet too. Everything was thrown into the sea. The socks floating, the shoes sinking slowly.

His slight stutter and small frame had resulted in Reginald Dwyer having a completely sheltered upbringing. Fussed over by a social worker mother and completely ignored by his slightly abusive and competitive, muscular father, Reginald slid through school avoiding blows and spending afternoons in the school library. Mr Collins, the insane school PE teacher knew he was there, and preferred it that way. Reginald was left hand left eye dominant and useless at ball sports. That library clock; its gentle ticking and slow, mechanical second hand had been his first love.

And then he read the Sherlock Holmes novels. The stories kept him awake and intrigued. Moriarty was alluring and terrifying. Reginald fell into a fantasy world that had him fixing clocks, solving crimes and being the world’s greatest cat burglar. He stole and collected his mother’s hair pins and taught himself to pick locks. He listened to the ticks and clicks of safe mechanisms. He practiced saying “the dead never speak” in French and German accents. In case he was ever caught. The fantasy ended in him swallowing a fast-acting poison that he had concocted in his very own underground laboratory. He thought of the pill box that housed his first tooth as the perfect poison holder. He was a loner. Independent. Secretive.

Reginald waded up to his knees. His heart was stuck in his chest. How had this happened to him? He was always the picture of restraint, manners, old fashioned distance.

How had his emotions unravelled so tremendously? The icy water lapped plastic packets against his legs. He felt trapped. His chest constricted.

Mrs Cartwright had started coming to the watch repair shop with silly little requests. She had asked to sit next to him while he worked. Her heady sandalwood incense perfume made him queasy. Fix this link. Change that face. This little watch runs slow. That one runs too fast. And then she had started sending the SMSes. Always the same. Always in caps. “I love you”. It was horrific. She had leaned over. Touched him. He had taken the watch on a chain and strangled her. And run.

The sun had disappeared. Couples had gathered their blankets and bottles and were heading to the parking lot. And Reginald Dwyer walked into the gloomy water.

Where the White Things Are

(with apologies to Maurice Sendak)

It’s well after nine in the safe neighbourhood

The Pilates girls gather – they look tight and good

They finish their flat whites and rinse out their glasses

And stretch the muscles of their super white arses

 

Then after, they convoy in their gold 4x4s

At the waiting red lights they remote lock their doors

And listen to Eusebius until he offends

Then switch back to 5 with its cross over blends

 

They wave at the beggars with go away hands

Or pretend not to see through their shaded Ray bans

And some of them gather to highlight their hair

But first a good massage in the lean-back chair

 

Where invisible hands make the water just right

And conditioner is spread to sighs of delight

And more coffee is brought and more coffee is sipped

As invisible hands in ammonia are dipped

 

Then magically golden to match their gold cars

These creatures regather at chic sushi bars

Where they order the hand rolls without any rice

It’s bad for their colons although it tastes nice

 

Then it’s home time for children from the private school

In pre-ordered Ubers; they all play the fool

While their mothers meet up at another safe space

To talk about charity, feminism and race

 

And craft gins are drunk and a good tip is left

But the old man outside will be most bereft

Because cocktails were paid for with a gold credit card

It’s, “I’m sorry, no change” for the usual car guard.

 

With giggles and waves and kisses and shouts

“See you tomorrows” slip from collagen pouts

And the 4x4s purr out the parking lot places

As the winter sun sets on their plastic white faces.

Out of the Blue

Seriously. This little writing group is messing with my mind. This is what came out of me last night and I don’t even know what to do with it, so I am leaving it here. The first piece was a warm-up with two prompts; desert and sea (or see or C)

Out of the Blue

Waves but not water. Heat moving outwards under dunes. A false shimmer. Attention grabber. Ultimate distraction. My tongue runs along the ridges of my palette. Other less mutable waves. I close my eyes. Two hard red C’s are burned onto my retinas. My eyes throb. I see their blood vessels. I am seeing my own blood.

I scan the horizon. Useless. I can’t tell the difference between wave, motion and man. My hands do the check. Gun, helmet, gas mask, ear piece still attached.

Something emerges. Form becomes more. Three bodies. They move like a dance. They are dancing. The earpiece crackles. A voice. “Shoot. Aim for legs.” These are dancers. The exploding bullets of the IDF will blow their legs off. The dancers are graceful. Small. Women. I aim. Through the eyepiece they are bigger. Real. Knee. Chest. Head.

They drop. Puffs of dust. Then waves. They disappear in the waves. Sweat stings my eyes. I close them again. Hard red blood C’s.

And then, following the instruction to ‘write the passenger safety card for a time travel machine’ my brain spewed this.

Dearest and most beloved on high Patronager and Provider of all things governmental and Spiritual

It is time for you to travel away from us and towards our future.

The Worker’s Union of Nambia most respectfully and with tiniest detail attending thoughtfulness have built the definitive and most secret not to mention special and outcompeting time travel machine outstriving not only the scabby and inconsistent Ruskians, the grabby and fat Amilkians and the troublesome and unhealthy Seffafikans.

Please consider this seat your golden on high throne to the future of Nambia.

Strapping your holy and divine body securely with the maroon stretchy safety garter belt will ensure your un whiplashed haloed head and prevent you from stainage on your most royally blue corduroy pant.

Two fluffy sheepswool head rest ear covers will respectfully surround your ears and prevent them from hearing false rumours and engine failure.

Special and Beyonce feet boot holders will overwhelmingly nurture your footness in the holding position beyond all movement and escapism.

This divine and shiny gear leverage will assist you painlessly to our Nambian future where you, most highly high personage and the only one capable of withstanding troublesome forces, will go to see who we become.

Thanking you subjugatedly and apologetically in advance for tiny errors. Please warm your royal bummage on the preheated bum cushion of this time traveling machine. Close your eyeness. Sit backwards and relapse.

The Workers’ Union of Nambia.

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