Stitches – A novel (2020)

I feel nothing but sorrow. I feel a sense of loss, of sadness as I walk down the well trodden streets of Bath today. Some people are wearing masks in the street. Others are not. Some people are wearing masks in the restaurants and cafés, others have removed them and forgotten to replace them when they go to queue for the loo. There are gaps everywhere. Gaps of confusion.

We live in a small town in the south west of England where the people are probably demographically elderly, by and large.

It is only people like me, over fifties that think of writing phrases like “by and large”; young people wouldn’t understand it. They have their own language. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an underground language they used to talk about old people. There’s a film they’re delaying launching. It’s called ‘Live and let Die’. It’s a Bond Film. He’s a fictional character, a sort of dare devil; a charasmatic spy who loves beautiful women. He has, or had, this friend Leiter; Felix Leiter. (Just now, even though I never added it, an algorithm has altered ‘Leiter’ to ‘Letter’ (even though I used a capital), three times, and I have had to manually change it back, which is what comes of using a mobile to type a novel). I know this because I read several of the author, Ian Flemming’s books as a teenager, not the algorithm thing, the name. I was always attracted to rogues. Raffles was a Frenchman I used to enjoy. He had been serialised on television when I was a child. A gentleman thief. We were attracted to cool, suave, sophisticated, we called them, men, as children. I digress. The film has been put back because it has a distasteful title; in the circumstances. We’ve lost over 40, 000 people to Covid-19. Most people call it Coronovirus. I call it Covid-19. Mostly I listen to the scientists, and that is what they call it.

In September the schools will all go back, and I suppose people will start to die again.

I feel nothing but sorrow.

I know I’ve said that already but I’ve always enjoyed litany. I began writing this for the oldies anyway. I dislike stereotypes, but I thought well I am old, I suppose. And if I am writing for myself then I must be writing for someone over fifty. It isn’t fair though, to stereotype me, because when I was around ten I was in love with older people and I should have read more of them. I wasn’t directed to good, strong writers until I was thirteen and I never found the right book. That would be an idea for a blog though, If you’re looking for one; books for thirteen year olds. Still, I’ve a habit of digressing. I’m missing my mother. I suppose she has done me a favour placing so much trust in me not to contact her. She knows what a good girl I am. I will comply. I just read an article in The Times (god knows why I continue to rifle through that paper looking for inspiration, it turned over to the other side during the other crisis, Brexit; I almost forgot the name of it; but Brexit seems so far away now). Where was I? Oh yes. Here. In Coffee 1. Listening to the buzz of voices. They’ve invented an app for office workers (they all use them), because they miss the hum of their colleagues. I discovered the soothing qualities of “the hum” in 2017. I’d recently moved to a town. In ancient books of the last century they’d leave a gap there, usually with a name, as though they were incinuating something, thus–.

I’m not going to reveal where I live. And I know you’ll keep up because you are as old as me and you haven’t lost the ability to read minds.

It was just this sort of conversation I used to have with my mother. We’d text and discuss maybe three things at once. Picking up loops of lost words like stitches. Perhaps I’ll call this stitches. Perhaps we’ll be in “stitches” later on. You never know. I may begin cackling with laughter at any moment. I know it is an old cliché but laughter really is the best medicine, and if you are reading this mummy, mother, don’t contact me now not now that I have found the page again. It is always the page that saves me from my own dark and desperate thoughts. The tree that sustains life becomes the paper or the symbol of it. God knows why “apple” it’s obviously “Word” and “WordPress” isn’t it? I never know whether that final question mark is supposed to be there. I mean wasn’t that a rhetorical question which doesn’t require a question mark? And so on and on it would go, like stitching. No not stitching, stitches. Stitching is so final, whereas Stitches can be unpicked and you can start all over again.

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Published by hermionelaake contributing editor O:JA&L

Currently, whist working on long fiction, I write short stories, poetry, essays and blog weekly. I appeared on Blog Talk Radio, 2016, interview across continents with Susan Wingate. See my twitter account: herziloph, pinned tweet; Award nominee, Jointly-published and Indie writer. Nominated for the Avon and Authonomy First Lines prize, 2014 and the H. G. Wells Grand Prize for Fiction, 2013. My flash fiction is published with Open: Journal of Arts and Letters.

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