More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

police

Somebodies Son.

Somebodies Son.

P1080145The moment I walk into the chemist and see her I know she is my mother. I wait and watch her in the security mirror. When she turns the corner I bump into her, knocking her handbag and its contents to the floor. Dropping to my knees I apologise, “I’m really sorry. Are you okay? Here’s your purse.”

She’s so grateful she doesn’t notice me slipping her notebook into my coat pocket. As she wanders off she leaves behind a scent that is unmistakably Mum.
Only when I’m safely back in the side street do I allow myself to look at her little notebook. The cover is black, crinkled like crocodile skin. I run my thumb over the gold lettering, M.a.r.g.a.r.e.t. A tingle ripples up my hand. Over the years I have thought of many names for my mother, but it makes perfect sense that she’s called Margaret. Margaret’s are strong, honest, and reliable… just like that Mrs Thatcher.
On the first page mum has written her name, Margaret J. Lawrence, 11 Blanche Street. Her handwriting is so neat, I wish she had been around to teach me.
She’ll be home soon, if I’m quick I can surprise her. How pleased she’ll be to see me waiting. I catch sight of my scruffy face in a shop window, I can’t remember when I last shaved or washed. Mum will help transform me back into her son. Perhaps we’ll even make it on the front page of the Ipswich Star, “Long Lost Son, Home at Last.”
When I eventually get to Blanche Street my heart sinks. Opposite the row of tatty run down terrace houses is a dirt track where a couple of burnt-out cars and a white van is parked. This was not what I had been expecting. In dreams I saw us together living in a country cottage with roses around the door or perhaps a detached house with a long gravelled driveway. I’m puzzled. What could have happened to my mother for her to end up living in this hellhole of a street.
The front door is locked and the curtains pulled tightly shut, a good sign, you never know who might be skulking around in an area like this.
I think of mum, she looks so much different to what I had imagined. She’s aged more than I expected, but that doesn’t matter as greying hair can easily be dyed back to blonde. When we are together I will help her with her makeup. Her lips will be rose pink for daywear and poppy red for when we go out on the town.
***
Want to read more? check out the full tales at blanchestreet.co.uk for link to buy the book.

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Writing 101: (Day 2 ) A room with a view.

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could — and tell us the backstory. How does this specific location affect you? Is it somewhere you’ve been, luring you with the power of nostalgia, or a place you’re aching to explore for the first time?

Today’s twist: organize your post around the description of a setting.

Giving your readers a clear sense of the space where your story unfolds will help them plunge deeper into your writing. Whether it’s a room, a house, a town, or something entirely different (a cave? a spaceship?), provide concrete details to set this place apart — and to create a more immersive reading experience. A room with a view.

I’m also using this prompt to write todays story:

Don’t think about how your characters sound, but how they see. Watch the world through their eyes — study the extraordinary and the mundane through their particular perspective. Walk around the block with them, stroll the rooms they live in, figure out what objects on the cluttered dining room table they would inevitably stare at the longest, and then learn why.”

— Dinaw Mengestu

As part of my university course I wrote a poem called: I Married a Werewolf. Every now and then I think about turning that poem into a story, so for todays challenge I am going to go to the flat where the werewolf lived.
I’m giving myself 2 x 30mins to get this first draft down.

Image taken from: holy-groundpage.blogspot.comNo one really believed her story. Yes, of course great care was made to calm and care for the victim as she told her tale of abuse; however, the part about her husband being a werewolf? Well, of course that wasn’t true. Over the years we have had many people coming in claiming to be all kinds of people or legendary creatures, particularly on Halloween night.

Just the other day we had two Jesus’s a vampire and one bloke who was convinced his elderly aunt had been attacked by dust. Those type of cases are all in a days work, but this one needed much more care. You get to know the different levels of fear and this one was off the scale.
While two of my colleagues helped the victim, it was up to me and P.C. Colin Bridges to investigate the victims story further.
The place was situated a few blocks away from the seafront, up the road from The Hospitality Inn Hotel. From the outside the house was just like many of the other dingy flat conversions around here that have started to rot. The thing is, when a building starts to rot so do the people inside.

The first thing we noticed was that the hall lights didn’t work properly, just flickering off an on as we made our way up the dark dank stairwell. Someone with incontinence was also adding to the smell. As we made our way to the top of the building the smell changed, a damp smell but not human, something much more earthy that neither I, nor Bridges could immediately put our finger on.
As we made our way to the top flat entrance, the pungent smell engulfed us. Bridges turned to me and said, “Wet dog”.
As soon as he said it, the smell hardened itself in my brain.
A few years back we had investigated a place where this couple were experimenting on a pack of dogs in their house in Portslade. with that image fixed, my hand automatically reached for my truncheon. The Portslade job had been messy, the dogs filled with a mix of fear and anger while their owners were just as aggressive.

Bridges had the owner’s key in hand and so very gently slipped the key in the lock. The only sound was that of a TV playing in the distance and our controlled breathing. Bridges looked at me and nodded and he turned the key in the lock then quickly pushed the door open.
The rush of hot stale air hit us both, Bridges nearly gagged. With our hands over our mouths we stepped into the hallway. Layers of ripped wallpaper laid exposed, it looked like someone had made numerous starts at decorating but had given up. The hall carpet was equally warn; it was impossible to say what colour or patten had originally beneath our feet.

With his truncheon raised, Bridges pushed open the first door to the left, it was the bathroom. Compared to the hall it was immaculate. The white tiles, bath, toilet and sink all shone. A strong smell of bleach filled the air; the sterile room felt eerily out of place. My mind went back to the victim who had come into the police station, I had really hadn’t thought too much about it, but her whole body oozed of chloroform.
As I reached for the door handle, Bridges flicked on the hall light which made me stop. Claw marks covered the door, not something made by a cat scratching, but something much bigger. I stood back, nearly knocking into Bridges and nodded at the door. It was then we both noticed the claw marks reached right to the top of the door frame. My first instinct was to call for backup. I’ve seen some weird stuff over the years: an old woman found weeks later in her flat in Hove, swallowed whole by a Boa constrictor, a couple who apparently spontaneously combusted, leaving just their slippered feet behind, that was another smell you never forget, like sweet pork; and now there’s this.

I cocked my head to one side and listened but there was no sound coming from behind that door. Looking back at Bridges, he nodded for me to open the door. As I did so, I was instantly knocked back by the over powering stench of death, it’s a smell that never leaves you. I’ve known Police officers who have left the force and years later they can still recall the smell by just mentioning a particular case.

The room was in complete darkness, but even then I knew there was a body in the room that had been dead a good while; the air was sickly sweet with an under current of excrement.
With one hand covering my nose and mouth, I reached for my torch and swept it across the bare floorboards and stopped when the torch beam found a naked man, flat on his back. On closer inspection the light glistened on what looked like a silver cake slice sticking out of his chest.
Further inspection showed the room was a carnage of broken furniture. It quickly became apparent that someone had tried to barricade themselves in here with little success. Looking over towards the window I saw blackout blinds keeping all light out of the room. As I went to open them my thoughts went back to the woman who said she had killed a werewolf, the claw marks on the door, the silver cake slice and the blackout blinds to keep not sunlight, but moonlight out of the room.
Pulling the blind up, the full force of the moonlight flooded in giving a grizzly spotlight light on the corpse. His body was coved in deep claw marks: this was not the perpetrator.
Without saying a word I gestured for Bridges to take a step back and to keep walking. Calling through to the station my worst fears were realised as the sound of static poured from my radio.

 

 

Here is my original poem which has a very different tone to the story that has just flowed today.

I married a werewolf.

(shape poem)

Yes, I married a werewolf
He said I was his to own
He told me he could not wait
For us to be all alone

The wedding was at midnight
My husbands such a loon
He said he had to see me
By the fullness of the moon

The wedding was just perfect
He said I looked divine
Blinded by his sweet nature
I just did not see the signs

That night his anger roused
As he put me in my place
He used me as his punch-bag
Careful to avoid my face

His mood would change in a flash
He said I was all to blame
With each clenched blow came the scream
“You women are all the same!”

The next morning filled with guilt
He promised me he would change
Begging for my forgiveness
Again, again, and again

One dark night I found new strength
By the waxing of the moon
I found the fire deep inside
I would make him change his tune

My werewolf husband came home drunk
And crawled into our bed
I coldly pushed knife to heart
Now it was I seeing red

No one really understood
The thing I had to do
But if you were there
If you were me
You would have
Killed him
Too

 

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