Singing Wren

“What’s going in that pot?”

“Dad wants to put the bamboo in it,” I say for the fifth time in twenty-four hours. My gaze falls on the large Malaysian plant pot across the lawn at the far side of the garden.

“Oh” Mum continues wiping the glass of the outside table. It’s smeared with cheese and the debris of yesterday’s eating.

I watch her and wonder how her brain is now working. What would it be like to start to lose your memory? Outwardly she appears the same if not a little older and more shrunken. She jokes that she is shrinking each year. It isn’t a joke. She visibly shrinks before our eyes as she reaches the last of her octogenarian years and moves towards her next decade. What do you call someone in their nineties? A nonagenarian. That sounds wrong. It should be some not none.

She pauses on her way up the steps to the back door leading into the kitchen, tilts her head, listening. “Oh, he’s been calling for his mate all week.” She sets off again as the bird’s high-pitched song dances around the garden. “Poor thing.”

I look around scanning the rose arch, yew and hawthorn hedge, the scattered shrubs and summer flowers, searching for the wren. I know it is a wren for she told me yesterday when we walked around the garden. She had named the plants and knew which season they would be in flower and the colour and size of blossom, which ones were scented and which ones they’d placed in the wrong spot, where they couldn’t flourish.

A lifetime of knowledge.

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The Nightclub

The music pounds and I feel the bass vibrating through the floor. People dancing, swaying, laughing, voices trying to be heard. I scan the room. Is he there? It should not be hard to find him as there are so few black people in Newcastle. I weave across the dance floor, the easiest way to get to the far side of the room. Still there is no sign of him. Anger and longing conflict. My jaw is clenched.

I’m dressed in tight-fitting clothes; a pair of beige stretch riding jodhpurs, a skimpy top and my latest acquisition – some stiletto shoes made from shiny ostrich leather. I know I look good and sashay in case he’s watching. I hear the opening beat of Nina Simone’s, ‘My Baby Just  Cares For’ and feel a hand on my elbow. Joy, my girlfriend, pulls me into a jive. Despite the shoes, I manage. There is so much joy in the song and we laugh and smile as we dance, but my eyes scan the crowd.

The music changes. Marvin Gaye, ‘Sexual Healing’. Joy signals a drinking motion with her hand. I follow her towards the bar.

He’s there. Tall, dark and handsome – so clichéd, but true.  He doesn’t call a greeting but holds my gaze, smiles, walks over to me and pulls me towards him and the dance floor. Then he whispers, “Hi,” into my ear. Of course I melt as the music, words and the movement of his body reduce me to a hopeless temporarily ex-feminist.

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