I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. A lot of you have contacted me to say you’re using this holiday time for writing. It’s not easy to fit writing projects around day jobs and everything else life brings us. If you’re stuck for a story/poetry idea, think about the first word that comes into your head and see where that thread takes you. The word ‘book’ popped into my head. I love the smell of a fresh book. I started to think about a boy who took this further…Here’s my story:
Stop it! No, no, no. Not now, not while she’s watching. Daniel forced his hands into his lap.
He had almost done it – almost revealed his fetish in front of her. He looked at his chewed nails and tugged at a strand of loose skin. All around him, in the crowded and chatty student café, life carried on, oblivious to the churnings of Daniel Bradman’s mind.
He lifted one bottom cheek, feeling the numbness setting in after perching on the stiff seat for half an hour. His hand moved, creeping up the table to the very top. It took on a life of its own and grabbed the brand-new textbook. No! For a moment, he thought he had spoken aloud and his eyes scanned the sea of faces. They stopped. He found her, two tables away. She was looking right at him. He turned away. Thank goodness he hadn’t succumbed to his greed.
He dared to look back at her. Her eyes hadn’t left his and she was smiling. Kathy Roberts was smiling – at him. He could feel the Ferrari red flush on his cheeks and he looked down to find his hands in his lap once more.
Kathy Roberts. She was a first year student studying sociology. He had spent hours deliberating over the choice of sociology or psychology. He knew he should have gone for sociology. He gnawed at the inside of his lip. It was a daft reason to opt for a degree course, one that could affect his whole life, but it was Kathy Roberts.
He felt as if he had been in love with Kathy Roberts forever, instead of the month he had known her. If you could call furtive glances at someone ‘knowing’ them.
A chair scraped back and heels clacked, coming closer. Footsteps stopped beside his table. Daniel’s head wouldn’t come up. It was Kathy. He would know her boots anywhere. They were beautiful brown leather with laces to match, but giant fluffy teddy slippers would have had the same effect.
He could hardly breathe. He was going to do it. He was going to look at her. Slowly at first, then with great guts, he thrust his head up. He was too late though. As he stared at her retreating back, he thought what a lovely butterfly clip she had in her long dark hair.
Daniel punched out his breath. What was wrong with him? He knew he stood no chance with her, especially when she found out the truth, but surely he could cope with looking at her? It didn’t help being so shy, but it was the book thing that was really letting him down.
His eyes sidled back to the textbook. She had gone now, so what did it matter? Would anyone notice a mousy haired youth and a book? His nostrils flared. He could smell the sumptuous scent.
‘All right, Daniel? You’ve already got that book, then? You’re keen,’ Ashley Nugent said, pulling out a chair and making himself comfortable.
Daniel was choking, gulping in great pockets of air. Ashley reluctantly dragged himself from the chair and whacked Daniel on the back. Daniel thanked him by way of a thumbs up.
‘Must be something in the air,’ Ashley said, sitting back down.
Go away. Just go away. Daniel glared at his fellow student, who was now ordering a glass of tap water from the pink-haired waitress. I want to be on my own. I need to do it. I can’t stand it any longer.
‘Perhaps I could borrow that book for a bit. I must get myself some money. I should get a Saturday job, I suppose,’ Ashley said, slumping lower in the seat and taking a slurp from the chipped glass.
Daniel tried to focus as the room span. Borrow the book? Take it away from him, when he, Daniel, hadn’t even christened it?
‘I’ve seen some jobs adverts in the window. You could have a look at them. NOW!’ Daniel said, clasping his book to his chest, then calming down, ‘this book isn’t that expensive. You’ll save up for it in no time.’
Ashley looked at him, a frown on his face, but he made no effort to move. Seconds. Then minutes went by. Daniel didn’t think Ashley was ever going to move. He had to, otherwise he was going to witness the act, that very act he had battled to remain hidden throughout his school years.
Daniel sighed. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. University was a fresh start, miles away from anyone who knew him. He had thought he could master it. He should have known.
‘I’ll see you later, mate,’ Ashley said, moving off in the direction of the window.
Daniel’s heart was doing dive-bombs into a tiny paddling pool. His eyes darted from table to table. Students were leaving, heading to various lectures. Daniel knew he should be going, too.
The book was on fire, igniting in his arms. Slowly, he lowered it to the table. It was calling to him, begging him to do it. It wouldn’t wait any longer. He closed his eyes, his whole body trembling as the need took over.
He held the book out and his eyes flew open. A smile played at the corner of his lips, spreading into a huge grin. He opened the first page and brought the book up to his face. He closed his mouth and took a deep breath in through his nose. The crisp, fresh aroma tickled his nostrils, before attacking him and shooting straight up. Succulent. Sharp. Sweet. His jaw dropped in ecstasy and he let the breath glide out. It definitely scored an 8 out of 10.
He leaned back in his chair. The best part was yet to come. His tongue flicked over his teeth, pushing through the tiny gap until it writhed like a snake, toying and teasing its prey. He held the book closer and his tongue lengthened, barely an inch from the page.
Daniel’s eyes danced, taking in the fine finish of the paper and the bold words blurring into one. He closed his eyes and ran his tongue from the bottom to the top of the page in one almighty lick. His taste buds oozed, savouring its tangy taste. Another 8 out of 10. Not bad, but a bit of a disappointment if he was honest. He had thought this one would be a 9. Maybe one day he would find that 10.
Daniel still had his eyes closed when he realised he was not alone. The soft, ‘Ahem,’ had turned to a, ‘What on earth do you think you’re doing?’
He opened one eye. Kathy. He closed it again. Maybe she wasn’t really there. He opened both eyes. She was and she looked as if she had gone into shock. Daniel didn’t need to ask how much she had seen, though he had to admit even witnessing a small part was enough to cause anyone concern.
He thought about lying. There were chocolate crumbs inside the book and he was a chocoholic or perhaps he could say it was part of a psychology experiment he had been set.
Daniel’s churning stomach had now churned down to the deepest depths. He had to face facts. He had blown it. The truth was out.
‘I was coming over to ask you out. I realise what a huge mistake I’ve made. I mean, I stopped at your table earlier and you wouldn’t even look at me. It’s obvious you don’t like me,’ Kathy’s voice was starting to crack. ‘If you’re doing that thing with the book to put me off you…’
‘No. No!’ Daniel was on his feet. ‘I do like you. A lot. It’s just…I’m shy.’
She liked him! Kathy Roberts liked him and wanted to go out with him. But the book. He had to explain about the book. He tried to think logically. Everything was going to be all right. The psychology experiment sounded plausible, didn’t it?
Daniel looked into Kathy’s face. Seconds passed, turning into minutes.
‘Before I ask you out again, what were you doing with that book?’ she said.
She asked. She had to ask. Chocolate or psychology?
‘If you go out with me, you’ll find out sooner or later anyway. Well…I have this thing…about books. I like to sniff them and lick them,’ Daniel said, knowing that to his own ears he sounded like a madman.
Kathy smiled. ‘Is that all? For a moment I thought you had some weird fetish. I think there’s something you need to know about me. I eat books. Not the whole book, but just the corner of each page. I like first edition paperbacks best. They’re so tender. I can’t resist them.’
Daniel frowned. She ate books? She actually destroyed the pristine and perfect page? He wasn’t sure how he felt about that. A shiver shot through him. Life was full of hard decisions, though this one was going to be easier than many he had made. After all, it was Kathy Roberts.
Last week’s theme was ‘the sea’. Thank you to Geoff and Keith who sent in their wonderful pieces:
Geoff Le Pard has an amazing talent for bringing his words to life:
Sonnet of Sand
The Disco Junk thrums past, a rainbow
On the puckered sea. Rock-like skulls,
Guano iced, are parliament to trilling gulls
Eyeing the coral fish, flashing their tarty show.
Cinnamon frosted babies, paint the beach
With plastic spades; eyeless parents, basted
For spit roasting; happy to have wasted
Their nurtured cash on dark staining their peach
White flesh. Seven days of frantic relaxation,
Spent anxiously checking for zebra stripes,
Are reward for a year’s dead-eyed toil. Gripes
Are banned; they have their compensation
In the form of cheap booze-induced comas
And the first stirrings of a melanoma.
Keith Channing shows why he’s the King of Limericks:
Christmas by the Sea
We’re camping, this Yule, by the sea
My wife, my dog Trevor and me
We drove down to Spain
Where it rains on the plain,
Now the happiest of campers are we.
The weather’s supposed to be nice
Not hot, but then, no snow and ice
If it starts to get cold
We’ll not do as we’re told
But we’ll be out of here in a trice.
We’re settled half way down the Med
Where the climate’s not bad, so it’s said.
It don’t bother me
How choppy the sea
It’s the very low temperatures I dread.
So we’ll stay here until the New Year
Enjoy the festive atmosphere
For now it does seem
As though the jet stream
Will bring us some fine Spanish cheer.