#fridayflash Dust Bunnies on the prowl

I wrote this surreal piece in about forty minutes with my 3 year old at my shoulder wanting to help with the typing. Guess which bits are his worthy contribution….

The dust bunnies were on the prowl, opening and closing their fluffy mesh mouths. It had been the longest winter and the stark bright supernova beams of spring clean light had not penetrated the forgotten corners, where they lurked making strange sibilant utterings. ww.w3w2333ww23232w233w222w2ww2$232w42ww4wwwwqeswqswqwqqssz2.

They waited growing fat off the culled offspring of middle class bacteria, the occasional toenail and other body parts of lumbering humans. S

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they spoke the most despicable of threats in soft tones that did not belie their horror.

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It was time.

Left long enough their DNA if it could be termed such had morphed and ameliorated so that they had developed the capacity to absorb anything in their path. All they needed was the means to move, a soft breeze to scuttle them along the floor towards anything that they could throttle and eat clean.

Jenny looked out on the linen of the sky and sighed. There were rumours that the sun no longer existed, myths that the eternal winter had come, the mini Ice Age returned. They sold ice skates on the banks of the Thames and set up hot dog and hot chocolate stands in readiness. It was already three months since Martin had left her. He had become more and more morose with each passing month of darkness and he blamed her for his mood. When he woke horror struck from a nightmare in the fuzzy felt of the early hours, opened his eyes and screamed ‘Not you!’ she knew it was over. He took all his belonging in black refuse sacks. He took no pleasure in anything, there was nothing he was fond of. She worried for him in an abstract kind of way, the way you worry and wonder about the fate of a soap opera character in a long since cancelled show.

Something needed to be different. The weight of her possessions strangled her, she couldn’t take the pressure of propriertorship. She wished to find a barge somewhere and be it’s temporary curator, set it along the banks of some ancient canal in increasingly gorgeous scenes like a found exhibit, it’s transience lending poignancy to the scene.

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There was that noise again. She wondered if it was a leaky radiator, or worse a burst pipe somewhere that she would never be able to locate, or the munching of miniscule malignant pests in the woodwork or under the floorboards. This damn house, why hadn’t he wanted to take it, sell it as part of the settlement? She heard her mother’s voice, dead these past three years – an accident on a cruise with her new husband, a toy boy for her golden years. She had been a stickler for cleanliness. Had got in a Filipino maid and paid her pittance to keep her large detached home in perfect order. ‘Open the windows!’she used to say whenever she visited. ‘Let LIFE in!’.

Jenny felt the cold in her bones, it hadn’t left her since the last days of summer folded in like fudge. But her mother was right, she had been right about everything, about Martin, oh how she graciously confined her disapproval to her eyebrows, kept her conversation hearty and charming. Jenny opened the window. The air seemed to hesitate before sighing and then slipping in. Jenny was aware of something all at once. Life on the move. A satisfied sibilance, the soft shuffling of residue, memory, remains.

Lying down, her chest opened and the cold, sunless air traversed her alveoli. She thought of travel, of cruise ships, her mother sipping champagne on the deck, her lover stroking her face, before she fell overboard or so said the letter. She thought of barges, slow moving but free.

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It was a soothing sound. She would sell, bring nothing with her but the bare bones. She was gone, out of there. You wouldn’t be able to see her for dust.



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11 comments

  1. You’re much braver than I am Alison, allowing your three-year-old anywhere near the computer! 🙂

    This is both cute and rather sad at the same time. As always, I absolutely adore your descriptions: “the linen of the sky”, “in the fuzzy felt of the early hours”, and especially “the last days of summer folded in like fudge” – gorgeous imagery!

  2. What a lyric feel your story leaves in the end. Loved it!

    However, even being cute, I think I’d enjoy it more without the help of your nephew… Maybe if it were a humorous piece it would work better? 😉

  3. Thanks. I was itching to get something down, to feel the flow of writing in whatever guise. The reality is that my writing time is very much punctuated by my children and I wanted to mark that and my son’s interest in making his own letters so I let it be the language of those malevolent dust bunnies.

  4. This feels like two stories in one. One about the dust bunnies and the other about Jenny. Was a little confused by the transition, or maybe I missed something? I liked Jenny’s reflections of her marriage and her mother. I liked how the dust bunnies had a life of their own.

  5. Yes I agree Lara. I think it was a freeflow association thing and that the ideas could be developed separately elsewhere. I wanted to see if it was possible to write a piece with the three year old in tow. I think the answer is yes and no!

  6. I don’t usually comment here as I can tell you my reactions in person, but here I am with two of your children, one being the co-author……. I really like this story for itself but espescially because I can see the parallel in creating something with the ‘help’ of the children. Also it shows how natural and easy the words come to you even though you are not completely immersed in the moment of writing. It is good to know that gems can be created incidentally and that we don’t always have to put these creative moments off until we have an uninterrupted hour.

  7. I liked this, a bit surreal with the 3 yr old interventions, but it almost felt as if the dust bunnies with their strange language were holding her back, and when she left them behind, she’d be truly free and living…

  8. I think the living dust bunnies work quite well here. It’s like the sound of her past pulling at her, while her mother’s love of life and the fresh air from the window is beckoning her forward.

    Your gorgeous use of language floors me every time. And your 3yo’s contribution is quite fine. 🙂

    Excellent story.

  9. I read this on Friday, but I wanted to come back and read it again before commenting. For me, having a 3 year old, I found his contributions so amusing. I laughed at each one, but not in a nasty way you understand, I am sure he will grow to be a literary genius much like his Mother.

    I now have a whole new level of respect for you and your writing. Reading between his lines, there is still a work of art there. I couldn’t do that with one of my children next to me. You are truly *made* of talent.

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