Royal Male

The unexamined life is between her covers. She slips into an Egyptian sheet and grows close to herself. An arm peeks out braving the cold of the room to reach for a clean ceramic cup.

It’s either coffee black or coffee white with two sugars. The Princess pours it as she sits under the covers waiting for her man. All is empty on the street outside and a shadow flickers along the pavement under the beam of light from a broken lamp post.

The Post Office gives no clues as to the address of the previous occupants yet they were here for twenty years, enough time for a family of four to out grow an ex pat community and wish for home.

The Postman is jovial at first.

“How are you?”

The ageing Princess is cold and distant.

“Welcome to Cricklewood.  My mail bags overflow with parcels marked return to sender.”

There is evidence to suggest the family who had this house before her invited him in for tea. His eyes wander and he wonders why the wallpaper is starting to peel and the Belarussian Princess leaves the décor unchecked.

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The coffee is now steaming.  Condensation drips off her nose and the milk in the jug is turning to room temperature.

So immersed is she in tropical images that time passes and brings sunlight and birdsong that eludes her. There is a rap at the door, something that shakes her with a jolt.  The book falls and she forgets to memorise the page number.

“Coming.  It may take me a while.  Do not go away!”

Her words echo as she trips down the stairs.  Following the stench of old vegetables to a room that was a hub of the house.

She mumbles to herself and opens the door to a half deserted South East street.

“Many letters for you.  From your lover!”

There are bundles of airmail letters all addressed in biro by a young child writing in English as a second language.  They are not for her.  They never are.  The family has gone away many years ago.  Their past comes back to haunt her.

“Return to sender?”

 

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He opens a bag full of letters and packets.  She inhales with difficulty into her laboured body after the shock of what she sees.  A bright shining ring in a tiny box surpasses her wildest dreams.  Blood pumps fast and beats on her fragile skin as he touches her hand.  He pushes the ring over her finger and kneels on the wet doorstep only to look up into her eyes that are perpetually looking down.

She pinches her arm and wishes this is her imagination.  She thinks of the books she reads and would never read again if she leaves this solitary existence behind.

She is firm and not fair as she closes the door with a push and holds onto the letters he thrusts into her hand.  She is still wearing the ring and stares at it with intent now imagining what a new life could be.  Dinner parties, theatre trips and rowing regattas flash through her mind with everything it is to be a family.  She is now sitting with a cold cup of coffee and takes a reviving sip.  In this emptying neighbourhood she lives as a recluse.  People drip away from her like water falling out of a broken bottle.  No one has worn down her exterior.  It has taken much strength and fortitude to hold back her identity.  Now, at 82, she needs to make a choice.

The yellow gold of the ring is now warm and the diamond tip is sharp.  The ring is made for her but she feels more pleasure when she looks to the past than to the future. She writes with a finger on the kitchen surface where the coffee has been spilt as she made the hot drink last night in the dark.

“Don’t be fathered by a Fascist Dictator.”

She hasn’t slept properly for a year and still continues to live off caffeine and saccharin.  She feels pain from the acid of the hot drink in her stomach.  It cripples her briefly.  This pain becomes agony and she accepts it as she accepts breathing is a part of life.

The banging on the door becomes louder and she feels her heart beat in rhythm with the thud thud thud on the letter box.  There is the usual plop of the letters streaming their way in.  She realises this is a new day.  She has been on the floor all day and all night.  The doctor needs to be called this time but she doesn’t raise the telephone she just walks past it all day.

She echoes a warning of common sense to herself.  If the Doctor doesn’t know about it then he can’t help. She values privacy more than money or life.

Her breathing is shallow but when she eventually drags her torso past other people’s garden fences to the drop in clinic it is almost too late.  They are closing for the day but they will stay to at least see her.  When the time comes to tell them what is wrong she cannot get the words out and she no longer feels ill.  She feels fine.  She feels that all is well with the world but the posters on the walls of the clinic point to much more unpleasant illnesses than she could imagine such as bowel cancer, incontinence and rabies.  The list of pamphlets hold her gaze as the nurse takes blood and a receptionist speaks.

“We haven’t seen you here before.”

There are even more pamphlets on diabetes, sexually transmitted diseases and glaucoma.  She knows now she has spent too long inside the same room on the Avenue for there is a wild life outside to discover.  The diseases on the clinic posters would be caught during joyous frenzies shared on Carnaby Street, Notting Hill and all along the Kings Road.  She should have contracted these curable diseases in her youth just to stamp her card and show how she can have a good time. This is why she came to London. to escape the confines of her previous existence.

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The nurse now has her blood and the doctor has a diagnosis and it all seems too cruel as she sits in the waiting room one week later with a coffee from the machine.  She brings saccharin folded inside foil and pours it in by the shovel load to make life sweeter.  The receptionist cuts the waiting room silence.

“I don’t know how you can drink it black!”

“It’s for shock”

“So bitter!”

“Saccharin solves it.”

Now even the receptionist knows about her saccharin habit.

Pancreatic cancer is written on the file the receptionist hands her to take in. The pancreas is a squiggle on a diagram that is drawn of a human being’s organs in a biology class.  It can’t be serious.  It can’t cause pain.  There can be no problem now she has options.

She sits on a chair, in so much agony and gulps, as the big fat painkiller placed in her mouth she swallows without question.  The chair she is sitting on is in fact a trolley in a corridor.  The corridor is moving as the trolley takes her on a journey to be examined and a sheet covers her body.

“You’ve written the King of Belarussia.  That’s not practical. You need to state a next of kin.  Who can we put you in the care of?”

In the blurred thinking of the pre-med she decides on a name and a work address.

“You have written the Royal Mail sorting office.  You are a package we will return to sender?!  I guess that’s nearer than Belarussia.”

One prick to the skin and she passes out.  The quiet and darkness of surrender are a welcome room to sit in.

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She walks to the door to the white light of the glass panel shining in see a shadow a tall figure.  It is the wheelie bin.  It needs wheeling.  It is not important and no one is there.  It can wait.

Turning to the stairs, there is a knock at the door and she narrates her own dream.

“The long lost son I thought would never find me in London because of the upbringing I left him to.”

She says the words she has been hurting to say.

“You are precious.  You need someone to take care of you.  No more letters to me simply saying take care of me. Like you, I exist.”

An echo above her hovers in the darkness of a ward at midnight.

“She has made the best kind of recovery.  A full one.  The answer is food.  She is not eating enough.  A simple and obvious mistake.”

The doctor emphasises she must learn to enjoy food with rapture, clean the smelly kitchen and open the cook books that are found in the shelves of the house.

Her old gold wedding ring, now safely returned, feels suddenly cheap as she looks around her home.  This house saved me, not my dream of finding my past, she thinks. The postman’s uniform is standing by itself but inside it is a new man, a happier face smiles back.

She smiles at the man who holds a sack full of letters.  He holds another burden from the hungry employer on his back.

“How did you find me?”

“Everything I learnt I read in books.  Besides, your name is on all these letters.”

“Hello.”

“I’ve been waiting until you could see me.  I am your son.”

 

 

 

I wrote this after meeting a young chap in a kitchen who told me he was a Prince.  Enjoy another adventure inspired by cooking here.   See time shift in the work of other writers here.

  1. Second Time Around: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn | Never Stationary
  2. Housecleaning 1900′s Style | The Library Lady and Rosie Bear
  3. I grew up on an island. How did I never read this? | Andrea Reads America
  4. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | The WordPress C(h)ronicle
  5. The Day Before the Snowdryft | Project eXa
  6. My dream trip | Myriad Notions
  7. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | In my world
  8. Hallowed Canaries | field of thorns
  9. Memorial Day Weekend, 2011 | Simple Heart Girl
  10. On the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial | Lead us from the Unreal to the Real
  11. Going Back at Birth | Navigate
  12. Day 280: If I Had a DeLorean | Writer’s Desk
  13. To go back in time… | adventuresofaneverydaywoman
  14. The free ticket. | chey4412
  15. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Ramblings of a Midwest 20-Something
  16. Weekly Writing Challenge : Time Machine | Simply about Life
  17. Time machine | Icezine
  18. In Our Hands | risingrave28
  19. A Peek Into My Past | Ninjas In Stitches
  20. Time Machine | Thinking Languages!
  21. The Deep Time Society: Imagining Academia and Time Travel | THIS CREATIVE REALITY
  22. The Race. « Restawyle
  23. Sulfur Island | Speculative Paradigm Shifts
  24. Time Machine | jenniferannefleming
  25. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | imagination
  26. Dark? Ages | I’m a Writer, Yes I Am
  27. I’m Happy Being In The Present, Thank You Very Much! | Sammi Talk
  28. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | The Rambling Rose
  29. The Girl in the hammock | thejimmieG
  30. Among the Whispers
  31. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Sarah’s World
  32. The Metal File | lostinthisdaydream
  33. The Conversation | The 253 in the 402
  34. On Train Tracks & Stopwatches | Hullabaloo and Susie Too
  35. My Time Machine | waltbox
  36. Long In Tooth | A lot from Lydia
  37. What if I could travel through time? | Okay, What if ?
  38. A Trip to the Doctor | The Seeker’s Dungeon
  39. Bali, 1938 | A Simple Note
  40. TIME MACHINE- 50′s Dance | The School Of Minds
  41. Looking Back: The Day I Should Have Left | Between Madness & Euphoria
  42. We Can’t Turn Back Time | I’m no stargirl
  43. Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge | Christine Morgan River
  44. Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine | Old Glory | Shawn

48 thoughts on “Royal Male

    • Thank you so much my friend! He said he was a prince from a country that had lost its power. At the time my Geography was not great but I remembered thinking it was feasible. He had no money but was incredibly well spoken and well mannered. Kitchens ay!

      I love reading your Daily Prompt responses in along with superb blogger wsmarble. How well your writing styles compliment each other. It’s a treat to read them both side by side.

      Wishing you a gorgeous week! Thanks again for this empowering comment :-D

      Like

  1. Ah, a prince, perhaps, a real prince, even. An excellent response to the challenge once again, Lita. I’m not going to be doing it myself this week.

    Sorry to have been away. I don’t know how many posts I may have missed, but it’s going to be a busy month for me–traveling to the beach, teaching a week-long workshop, and having friends visit from the US.

    As I commented on another blog, maybe all of this happening at once is appropriate, given that it’s April, after-all. When it rains,, it pours. Right?

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    Like

    • Great to hear your news Kathy. The week workshop sounds bliss! Wish I lived a bit nearer, I would ship up! It was fab to spot some photos of your readings of your work and it looks a splendid event.

      Look forward to enjoying your next post when schedules are clear. Not a lot can beat traveling to the beach though (IMO)! It all sounds bliss.

      Thank you for your beautiful comment, I love the ending. April is a funny old month and we will probably end up with a tropical Summer here as seasons are crazy in UK!

      Wishing you a terrific time of it.

      Hugs

      Lita

      Like

  2. For some reason it reminded me of my father who would reheat his pot of coffee all day long until it turned into a blackish liquid and then put his sugar into it to make it super sweet.

    Like

    • So it’s a good way to make a strong coffee then. Ah I hadn’t thought how it would be super strong at the end.

      I love the look of the purple blooms that are coming through in your garden blog. Such a skill to nurture so many beautiful plants. Myself I have a few snowdrops!

      Like

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  6. When life gives me a few moments to really *read* my favorite blog writers, yours is one I stop by. I wish I had more time for a comment — but just wanted you to know you captivated me with this one!

    Like

    • Cindi that fact you left this comment and read means everything!

      You have been so supportive in the first few weeks of getting my blog to start.

      Your posts are memorable and I learn a lot about what will make the writing/piece work. Your blog has premium style with an archive that gives so much joy. Thank you for being inspiring.

      For me the small details from your work stick like glue. I love the Viking boat replica in the context of a journey (so stirring!) and the techniques being used to renovate historic wood buildings, again from Norse culture. Scratch the surface and we are Vikings!

      Like

    • Thank you MissFit for this kind comment. Your site gives so much encouragement and inspiring ideas that always hit the mark! Have just discovered your tweets too! :-D

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      • Yay!!! Yes those tweets display beautifully on your home desktop [which no one has] but they get relegated to the bottom of your smart phone [which 7 billion ppl have...] :-D
        The important thing is that found them and i do hope you enjoy them !
        MY “trending” is PHAT MythBusters where i try to creatively cram a wholesome idea into 140 characters. sometimes the abbreviations i have to use to fit within the mark are just as entertaining as the info!

        Like

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  8. jay-sus. How unimagineably good is this. I am completely…there is not even a word for how gobsmackingly brilliant this is.

    All BS, ego strokes, politically correct commenting aside–you write as no one else. And completely brilliantly.

    I am even more honored and encouraged by your visits…in the best way…just: wow.

    Like

    • Gosh. Thank you so very much! :-D I am glad you enjoyed it. Your comment has made me so happy!

      I can’t however compete with the beautiful fountain of fresh new ideas that flow through your site. That is jaw droppingly awesome! You are profoundly prolific Karen. There is not a beat out of place in your work and I love the worlds your words take me to. Write on!! :-D

      Like

    • Thank you Sri that means a lot. I always have a great time reading your fiction. I adore your dry humour and the twists have a resonance at the end. I am following your current A to Z blogs with much enjoyment! :-D

      Like

  9. If this was in a volume of short stories I would say it was a “page-turner”. It was definitely a “keep scrolling” read. Just lovely. This is a wonderful line: “She thinks of the books she reads and would never read again if she leaves this solitary existence behind.” The allure of the solitary life.

    Tickled pink to meet you, Lita!

    Like

    • Tickled pink likewise! I love running into brilliant writers I can now follow. WP rocks.

      Thank you so much for kind words. Means a lot.

      Looking forward to enjoying more of your posts and losing myself in more of your writing. More power to you.

      Like

    • Thank you Aoibhinn! I am so pleased to have found your site. There are some tempting Irish recipes I am looking forward to trying. I enjoyed the soft, gentle humour of you 50 words with the surprise twist!

      Like

  10. There’s a poetic-ness to the way this was written.
    The air of mystery beckons the reader (well it could be just me actually =P) to continue reading, wondering where this is leading to.

    I was short of breath as I read during the doctor visit, wondering what would happen to the lady. Would she be alright?
    You have somehow crafted a pair of hands from your words that holds the reader in place and keep them captivated.

    There’s nothing more beautiful than a reunion especially when time comes in between two people. A tug at the emotional string inside.

    Like

    • This is awesome feedback which humbles and informs me. I am grateful to you for taking the time to give me detailed notes. To know what works in a piece is like gold dust and I appreciate your words.

      I am deeply inspired by your recent posts that emphasise ways in which humans connect. I learnt a lot from visiting your site and I am sure I will return soon to re read your work again.

      With thanks and good wishes.

      Like

      • I’m glad that you enjoyed visiting my site as much as I have enjoyed reading this entry.

        The word play used here is something that is a lesson to me that I’ve many more steps to climb up the mountain of improvement.
        Beautifully written. You take words like strings on a musical instrument. While I strum to make noises that make sense, you’ve composed a symphony that allow the words to dance.
        Call me being flowery but that’s the imagery I got in my head to best describe your wordplay.

        It always has been a yearning of mine to try and achieve this style of writing as well.
        I’m still discovering a writing style of my own, as all artists are who just start out.

        A grasshopper still, trying to jump over the blade of grass before me.
        Thank you for teaching me and for inspiring me as well. :D

        Like

  11. Pingback: The free ticket. (Time Machine Challenge) | chey being

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