This article is taken from Stand 227, 18(3) September - November 2020.

Simon Howells Venturing

I lay in bed and thought. There was the week of work and also work people, puppets that each morning came out of their drawers and cupboards with numbers and words in their heads. There was the clock taking over and seconds panicking like sheep and you spending the rest of the day rounding them up. There were coffee spoons and sighs, and watching yourself when certain people arrived and stood off like scarecrows.

I rose and the thoughts fell to my feet.

With sleeves rolled up, I washed my clothes in my basin, dirt and suds combining to form a broth. Sweating, I withdrew my hands, now waxy and wrinkled, and the clothes curled, twitched, settled. I had every chance to rescue myself, but instead I witnessed the drowning; the skin on my hands and arms drying to chalkiness.

I went into the garden and pegged myself out.

I buffed up my shoes, emptied my handbag of fluff and mints, cleaned my ears and plucked my chin, swept under the bed and poked into the corners with toothpicks. I didn’t touch the bathroom. I had, some time ago, been forbidden from doing this by Joyce, who had reminded me in vinegary tones that a weekly char was engaged for grotty jobs. Joyce’s room was right next to the lav, so that I always had to make my noises under the running of a tap. Joyce kept the same hairstyle because of a compliment paid when she was a girl, and now her ...
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