Tarbrush consulted the recipe tablet for the nine-hundredth time and then he bobbed outside to check the sundial in the garden. After slowly counting the notches aloud, he returned to his position in front of the oven.
There the process began again.
The only thing that seemed to change was that the wringing of his hands and the twitching from his left eye grew worse with every sweaty lap.
Tumas, in the corner slicing carrots, was no better. Every time Tarbrush wobbled back into the kitchen, wheezing like an asthmatic cow, he put down his knife, held his breath and waited. He only exhaled after Tarbrush had left the kitchen again.
‘It’s time,’ Tarbrush called, his voice shaking with nerves.
Tumas put down his knife, took a deep breath and nearly collapsed through hyperventilation.
Tarbrush placed his hands, dramatically, on the handles of the oven’s double doors, before pulling with such gusto that only future magicians (and Gheras) would be proud of it.
‘Aaaahhh!’ He screeched, as the released hot air sealed shut his eyes.
It took a couple of seconds for him to open them and the mist in the oven to clear. Tarbrush sheepishly reached into the oven.
Tumas was firmly rooted to the spot, his nerves gluing him there.
Tarbrush took two delicate steps back, away from the oven. In his hands he held a cake dish, so delicately, you would have thought it was the crown jewels.
He placed it gently on to the work-top, breathing heavily from his nose.
‘Tell me,’ Tumas croaked.
‘It’s as flat as Mr Flat from Flatsville Tennessee,’ he replied, his voice as flat as the cake he had attempted to bake.
Cocooned in their misery, they completely failed to hear Smelak sniggering to himself into his sink.
‘You can’t have done the mixture properly,’ offered Tumas.
‘I followed everythin’ the recipe told me,’ said Tarbrush, turning to the tablet in hope that the answer would pop up and swipe him across the cheek. ‘Well, we’ll just have to do it again, more carefuller.’
If we were watching a film this is the time the images of young Tumas and Tarbrush would speed up, like a pair of lunatics. We would see them running frantically around the kitchen, bumping into each other. We would see them comically wagging fingers at each other, dropping things, picking dropped things up and dropping things once more.
The film would then speed-up further, leaving us to observe them quickly cream the butter and sugar, mix in the egg yolks and milk, fold in the flour, whisk the egg whites and fold them into the mixture.
The film would then slow down as we watch the two chefs grease the dish and fill it with mixture and put it in a hot oven and scream silently, as their eyes seal (again!). We would watch them slamming the doors shut, leaning against/leaping away from the hot oven and, finally, falling against each other, exhaustion written over each other’s face.
If we are the only life
In this ridiculously large universe
Then please tell the pieces of
Coloured paper and alloy to
Put down their arms and
Appreciate what they have.
A naive hope?
I think so.
I may as well hope
For the power to move
With only my mind
At this time I am not going to fill millions of pages stating why I think the world should mourn for one man, I am in mourning. What I will say is this: I give thanks that I was alive to know of his name, his strength and humility.
Sadly the world needs more like him.
Rest in peace great man!!
Atam looked at the loaf bowl in puzzlement. ‘I’m sorry?’ He muttered.
‘There you go apologising again,’ said Gheras facetiously. ‘This here bowl to be is going to be the mixing bowl for the cake mixture. Is it good enough?’
‘Well…yes. How did you know?’
‘That you needed a bowl?’
‘Yes, and the rest. Is it the Magic Circle?’
‘Something like that. Now, have you worked out how much mixture you are going to be needing? Because, as you may have noticed the bowl is only half begun. I’m going to finish it when you tell me your requirements.’
‘I have chefs working on that at the moment,’ answered Atam.
Gheras’ eyes seemed to film over for a moment, trancelike. ‘For the moment you have just Tarbrush and Tumas working on the weights and measures?’
‘You’ll also be requiring a special new oven?’ Gheras asked, his eyes returning to normal.
‘Er, Yes, bu…’
‘Come back and see me in a week.’
‘Yes. Thank you. Bu…’
‘You’ll be needing to visit that little weasel, Nazdaq now, I suppose,’ he began to guide Atam to the main door. ‘Let us hope you can converse with him better than you have with me. If not you will be hard pressed to get an egg out of him, never mind the thousand or so you’re going to need.’
‘What I’ve been trying to say is, what do you mean “for the moment I have just Tarbrush and Tumas working on the weights”? And how did you know that?’
Gheras looked down at his dog and put his fingers to his lips, as if to stop it telling. ‘I meant there will be an “other” who will help. As far as telling you how I know; it may take time and time isn’t something you have in abundance, is it now Chef?’
‘Glad we are in accordance,’ Gheras began, reaching for the vine cord. ‘Now be off with you and visit me again in a week.’
‘Yes, thank you, Gheras.’
The entrance rock scraped open and Atam stepped out.
‘Er, see you in a week.’
‘No, I’ll see you in an hour or so,’ Gheras said and waved his toy-dog’s paw as the door began to close. ‘Good luck with Nazdaq.’
‘I thought you said visit you in a week!’ Atam watched as the rock dust obscured the old man’s face.
‘I did say exactly that,’ called Gheras.
The door thumped shut. Atam turned, shaking his head in amazement and confusion, before wandering through the little crowd to find Nazdaq.
I found out today that a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, but knows who she is, is celebrating a massive eleven months of sobriety!!
I am very proud of her, it could not have or be easy!
She is an inspiration.
Her story is one of continual growth and faith.
Well done lovely!
It knocked early in the morning.
It tapped lightly at first,
Like a gentleman not wanting
To interrupt the sleeping household.
When there was no answer
Its obsession grew murders tendrils.
It threw both broad shoulders
At the trembling stone facade.
It hollered through cracks
In the badly constructed windows.
Both sides of the double glazing
Reaching to touch like ‘branes.
The menace climbed to the
Second floor and scratched on
The fragile pains, its frustrations
Twisting any joy from its soul.
It cried down the chimney.
It’s long fingers grabbed at tiles.
Like a tantruming terrible two it
Beat and tugged and banged
Both fists. Pets covered ears.
Sleep threw up arms in resignation.
And when the house’s eyes were wide,
The child skulked away to rest.
Saul opened his eyes to a very different world in which they had been open last.
There was the obvious differences: the fact that he was in an hospital bed, on a ward with three snorers and a teeth grinder. It was night time.
The last obvious fact was that his head hurt, which would explain the hospital bed.
However, they were differences that didn’t oddly overly concern him.
The differences that were concerning him were that he had no idea how he had got here and the inexplicable fluidity of his mind. He felt like he was floating in some way. His brain just didn’t feel like his own.
He lay for a little while trying to work it all out, however even the worry started to worry him. Saul never worried. About anything.
Kids calling him “spazza Saul” did not worry him. Being alone didn’t worry him. This disjointed, free-flowing thought, fully awake business was sending the worry monster writhing.
He needed to pee.
He swung his leaden legs out of bed and planted his feet on the cold linoleum flooring.
Something felt odd in his legs too.
He stood up to find the toilet and crashed heavily and worryingly to the floor.
The Gilded Path. By CpSingleton (c) 2013
What blissful relief will flow
When bitterness is let go!
Carried like a cheek of Violet Bloom.
One taste or crunch: the final doom.
Easiest be to say I will,
Hardest task to finally fulfil,
One precarious step on the gilded path.
My heart and will: my hickory staff.
Life bends the path to test the thigh
Strewn with holes; its gradient high.
At the end? the blessed Grail.
Not for those who chance to fail.
Though, I may stumble, and I’ll curse,
Not getting up will cost me worse.
No fire and brimstone, burning well,
Coming back to this would be my hell.
‘Round bolted minds sealed with dismay and
Mouths with only dark thoughts to say.
That’s not the blessed peace I seek
When my life here has reached its peak.
the rise of the sponge cake moon. By CpSingleton (c) 1994
‘How…Where…What,’ Atam stammered.
‘I take it, by your reaction, that you’ve never done that before?’
‘Ah, well, I’ll keep looking for others. Until then I shall be a small part of a circle,’ replied Gheras, looking crest-fallen.
‘I can learn.’
‘Learn? You have to have it here, my boy,’ he pointed to his chest. ‘A little like that cooking palaver.’
‘Sorry?’ A confused Atam asked.
‘Don’t apologise. Cooking, you do it with ease. Or I presume you do, by the position you currently hold,’ Atam nodded. ‘Well I can’t. Even if you persisted in your teachings for a thousand years.’
‘I’m sure that’s not the case,’ Atam reassured him.
‘I thank you for your confidence, although have you seen my physique?’ He indicated to his skinny body. ‘You don’t get a body like this without a good deal of practice. I can burn salad. Let’s not even touch upon my baking skills.’
‘I’m sure…’ Atam began.
‘You see those splendid building blocks I have stacked, so expertly, one on top of the other, to resemble a bowl?’
‘Loaves of bread, one and all.’
Atam wandered over and examined part of the half-completed bowl. His eyes widened. Every one was a ruined loaf of bread.
‘I see your point,’ he conceded, tapping the solid, black lump.
‘I’m glad that you do, because I was getting rather sick of the discussion,’ Gheras replied and proceeded to pick up his tattered toy dog and stroke it heavily. ‘Now then, will this bowl be adequate for the job. Once it’s complete of course?’