I came across something which I wrote a couple of years ago, and it was completely new to me. Obviously I had written it, but I have no recollection of doing do and no idea whether it was meant to be a short story or a longer story, or even who Gus, the main character is!
A skein of birds arced across the sky, they were flying low and against the dying light of the sun were almost in silhouette. If Gus had been more of an expert he could have said what birds they were, would have known whether they were geese or swans or some other more obscure water-bird. He was interested in birds, but never could remember what he read up in books… or remember what the creature had looked like which had sparked his interest.
He would stare at some cocky individual perched on a winter’s twig, or pecking at a swathe of grass or crouched in a reed bed and he would try his utmost to remember the size, the shape of the head the colours on the head, the back, the wings… but later, with the bird spotters book he would wonder whether it had been grey with a brown stripe, or brown with a grey stripe… or whether it had been grey at all. Now, as he trudged across the water meadow away from the sea, he took the birds to be some sort of sign, but what it was he could not read.
He looked back at them but he could barely make them out against the dazzle of the sun’s setting rays. It had been a miserable day, grey and mournful, rather like his mood, but now as evening slipped into night, the skies had cleared and the sun was going down in a rather half-hearted way, carelessly chucking some pretty colours across the blue, as if it was making a half-hearted gesture. The few stars that were visible, on the other hand, were rather jaunty and bright, like show-offs at a dull party.
Would the moon come out? He stopped and looked up at the heavens but there was no sign of it anywhere. He sighed. He had come out to walk for something to do not because he enjoyed it or wanted to… if he had been with someone else, if he’d had company then maybe he would have enjoyed it more, but now he was just trudging the circuit from house to beach, to estuary, to cutting across the water meadows and then back home.
Should he go to the pub… was he in the mood for pub banter? Not really, but maybe it was better than returning to an empty house. He trudged along beside the rhyne, glancing into the darkening water but there were no ducks. As if they read his mind there was a fierce quacking from somewhere upstream as someone fell out with someone else in duckland. A man and woman were walking towards him with a large shaggy dog and they greeted him by name as they met. He had no idea who they were but chatted briefly. Yes it was a lovely evening, it had been a dull day, hadn’t it, yes he was on holiday, school was over for another year, yes how lucky teachers were to have such long holidays. As they walked on, calling goodbyes over their shoulders he remembered that they were people form the pub, they were in the quiz team which most often rivalled his. What their names were he could not remember, he wanted to call them Sally and Charles, but that was not right. He walked on, puzzling over their names, as if it mattered, because at least it gave him something to think about.
The pub was unexpectedly crowded, with people he did not know which was a blessing. He bought a drink and retreated outside where the smokers gathered even though it was becoming chilly. He sat with his pint at a table near the unused bowling alley and let the darkness settle around him. It was quit cold but he didn’t really care, he allowed himself to indulge in thoughts about Cheryl. Cheryl… he even hated her name… before he had started going out with her he had hated the name… there had been a bossy bully at school when he was in juniors who had picked on him until unexpectedly she left. Cheryl, his ex-wife… how the hell had he come to marry her… well, he had loved her… silly, stupid love. Opposites attract… well they had with him and Cheryl, she was obsessively neat and tidy and well-ordered, and at first that had complimented his casual and careless attitude to life but after a while they had become so irritated by each other that being neat or being untidy had been a…
Had been a what? It just ends like that and I have no idea what was going to have come next, either in the sentence or in the story. Who is Gus? Why is he so dispirited, what was going to happen? It rings no bells at all with me! There are a couple of other extracts, so I’ll look back at them and ponder on whether there is anything worth pursuing!