The following two 500 word stories were responses to writing group homework set against the above title.
Siren Sound # 1
“I’m asleep when it starts, I think.
WAH WAH WAH.
I’m awake now, but confused like. I can’t remember what room I’m in, even what house.
WAH WAH WAH.
My eyes won’t focus but there’s light shining round the edges of the blinds and I see the clock. It’s half-past three. I’ve been waiting for it to happen, dreading it. I try to shake my wife awake, but she’s been sleeping badly so she’s had a couple of drinks; she’s snoring. I can’t rouse her.
WAH WAH WAH.
I try to put my slippers on but get them on the wrong feet and I fall against the chest of drawers, banging my head. I swear and that wakes my wife.
She says “What’s that siren?” Is it a fire?”
I’m really angry. I think I say “It’s the baby, that’s what it is. I can’t take much more of this”, something like that anyway. Maybe I just think it. I have to get up for work in three hours but she’s sleeping through everything. She mumbles “What baby, I haven’t got a baby”, then rolls over and snores again.
The next thing I know I’m standing over the cot holding the baby really tight and she’s not crying any more, so I put her down again and go back to bed.
Then the alarm goes off and I get up, put the kettle on and go into the bathroom, like I usually do. Then my wife gets up and looks in on the baby. She calls down that there’s something wrong with her and to ‘phone for the doctor.
Then I’m in the police station, and they’re saying what about the bruises and that I killed our baby. That’s it. But I didn’t do it did I?”
“No, you didn’t. It’s not unusual to have such dreams, especially with a baby that’s crying a lot. It’s just frustration. How long has this been going on?”
“Well, let’s see. She was very colicky as a small baby, and a difficult feeder, up three or four times a night we were. Then there was the teething, what a nightmare that was, and then the terrible twos; I suppose nearly three years, so far.”
“That amount of sleep loss would stress anyone, but don’t worry they are just dreams: you won’t kill your baby, but you do need more rest. I’ll give you a prescription for something to help you sleep; perhaps I should see your wife too.”
WAH WAH WAH.
I was already awake. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was annoyed, it wasn’t my turn, see, but my husband had taken a pill so he didn’t wake up. I was at my wits end, so tired, so tired, and the neighbours were complaining too. I only put my hand on her mouth, to shut her up a bit, you know, it was just a short while, to quieten her down. Oh God. I didn’t mean it.
Andrew Gold ©
06 May 2014
Siren Sound #2
Kevin and Georghe are sitting in the dark, at the foot of the rectory garden wall. The tinkling of the van’s engine cooling down clicked off the minutes while they wait to be sure it is all clear. Then the van’s back door creaks on a rusted hinge, sounding like the massive oak door to the sacristy adjacent, and they unload.
“Right, we’re in. Hold the ladder, will yer Gheorghe?”
“I holding ladder already”.
“Not there, you Bulgarian berk, hold the bottom while I climb up.”
“I not Bulgarian. I told you Romanian, RO-MAY-NIAN”
“Okay, Romanian, Bulgarian, whatever, but shut up and let me get on the ladder, will yers.”
“You not very nice mans, Kevin. I thought Irishes very nice mans. You not nice”.
“Alright, I’m not nice, but this isn’t a popularity contest. Now pass me up the crowbar.”
“What is crowbar?”
The crowbar, the long bit of metal with a bent end”
“Can let go of ladder?”
“Crowbar in bag. Bag in van”.
“Holy Mary, mother of Jaysus. Why didn’t yer bring it over the wall with yer?”
“You not say bring bag, you say bring ladder.”
“Never mind, you Balkan eejit, I’ll get it meeself”
“SSHHHHH. What now?”
“You stand on my fingres”
“Well, move yer feckin fingers out of the way”.
“You still on my hand”.
“I’ll kill him. There, is that better?”
Tank you, yes. Can let go of ladder now.”
There is a muffled exclamation, a thud and a resigned sigh.
“Why you fall in bush, make lot of noise? You say I not make noise.”
“Well, here’s the thing, I think you may have let go of the ladder a touch too soon. Help me up, and mind them prickles. Oh Jaysus Oh, look at the state of me. Now wait here, an’ be quiet. Don’t be touchin’ anything alright? I’ll go over and get the bag.”
Still muttering about being landed with a linguistically, as well as criminally, challenged accomplice, Kevin re-joins Gheorghe at the foot of the ladder.
“Right. We’ll start again. Now, hold the ladder, an’ when I get to the top pass me up the bag. Okay? Have yer got that?
“I take crowbar out of bag first?”
“Oh help me God! Why did we ever let them in the feckin EU? No, Georghe. Leave the feckin crowbar in the feckin bag and pass it all up at the same time. Eejit.”
But, his bulk once more perched at the top, face buried in ivy, Kevin makes another discovery.
“What matter, Kevin”
“It’s the wrong window. This one has shutters.”
But, before they can regroup, the sound of a siren splits the silence.
“Oh jayz. Watch out I’m comin’ down. Hold the ladder steady for us, Gheorghe. Gheorghe? Are ye there Gheorghe?” But it isn’t Georghe at the bottom.
“Good evening, sir, can I hold the ladder for you.”
13 May 2014