Inside out

Some poems and reflections on life

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The track came to an end by the beach and turned into a sandy path through the dune grasses. I carried on across the dunes. The bay, not so far from the city, felt lonely and isolated. The sea crashed in on the rocks. No sign of human habitation was present.

The track dipped down to the rocky shore and crossed a small sandy stream. The waves washed gently into the mouth of the stream, pushing against the current.  I started to cross the stream. My feet stuck in the soft bottom. I couldn’t move. The waves came further up the stream, the tide gradually rising. I was stuck fast as the water grew higher and higher.

Photo by Jamie Lawrie

Photo by Jamie Lawrie

The waves were getting higher and I was sinking deeper. The water was soon up to my neck, with waves about to crash over my head. A wave caught me on the face, warm and wet, licking me from mouth to nose, smelling on stale breath.

Jessie stood, paws on the side of the bed, trying to wake me. I rolled over to try to sleep again, but she pushed at my back, whimpering. Reluctantly, I got up and pulled on my sweats and trainers and took her out for her morning walk.

The dim dawn light hardly penetrated the autumn fog, shrouding the hills. We wanted down the path through the trees, not seeing more than three or four feet in front of us. The branches hung ghost-like in the misty air. Damp drops clung to the ends and dripped on our heads. The birds were slowly waking up, their songs muffled in the misty morning.

Suddenly, it ran across the track. Furry, white, brilliant and shining with iridescence. Jessie took chase, pulling the lead from my hand. I called, “Stop, Jessie! Come back!” But it was no use, she was off, disappearing through the undergrowth. A flash of light, an electric crackling in the air and Jessie yelped in pain. Moments later she limped back, a dark ring singed around her neck.

I sit now at my desk. The vet found nothing wrong with Jessie, other than singed fur. I am trying to work out where to find the money for the bill. The throbbing in the back of my head is getting worse. Strange lights play around the edge of my vision. The world has suddenly gone quiet.

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“Just the ticket”

He shuffled in. Smelling on cheap liquor. A dirty, ragged coat and worn out shoes. He searched through is pockets, one by one. Pulling out bits and pieces, gradually finding a coin or two. The pile of coins slowly built up on the counter, until there was just enough for a ticket.

The attendant had almost thrown him out as soon as he came in. He reeked to high heaven. It would take a lot of air freshener to get rid of the stench. But, what the heck, he had the money, so let him have his ticket.

Saturday night, and the balls rolled down the tube, one by one. Mrs Mac sat in her comfy chair and wrote down the numbers one by one. She picked up her handbag to look for her ticket, but she couldn’t find it. She searched all through her bag, pulling everything out. Still, it was nowhere to be seen. She searched her pockets. She checked the clothes she had been wearing the day she went into town. She looked all through the car. Nowhere could she find that ticket.

The old tramp died that night. It was too cold in the hollow at the back of the pack, under the trees, with only a newspaper blanket. His body laid on the cold steel table of the morgue. His clothes had been checked quickly and then burned.

The headlines that morning read that the jackpot had been won; and in Mrs Mac’s own town too. Mrs Mac turned her house upside down looking for that ticket. Her grandchildren retraced her steps to town, looking everywhere for where it might have fallen. By Monday, no one had claimed the prize. The search went on for Mrs Mac’s ticket.

The priest read a short liturgy for the old tramp. He had no known family and was buried at the back of the old cemetery.

No one ever claimed the jackpot. They are still looking for Mrs Mac’s ticket.