The Unwanted Guest

…inspired by one element in Christine Deakers’ piece here in HuffPost¬†books.

A discarded Christmas tree

Credit: julio.garciah/flickr via Creative Commons

She’s the close family you can’t get shot of after Christmas. You get on with things but her sour breath brushes the back of your neck. The squelch of her chewing gum doesn’t cover up the halitosis of her nasty opinions.

So you push past, trying to keep going. The badly worn slippers slob behind you, follow you everywhere. Flap, flap – quiet, banal and inescapable.

She so convinced she’s the righteous judge, that she channels what must the views of all right-thinking people. Hers is a deep reek of certainty that seeps upwards like voice of drainage. Her snide opinions stain. They stick like the soup spills on the housecoat she’s worn three times too long.

a woman sneering

Into your study she sidles.

No-one wants historical fantasy any more, she says.

You ignore her and type on.

What exactly do you know about modern children? I’ll tell you – nothing.

She settles down in a shadowy corner; rearranges the cushions into a damp nest.

Too old and too out-of-touch – that’s what it is.

You shush her and she picks up a book. Just in the corner of your eye, she flicks the pages and looks pained; jaundice-yellow with distaste. There’s all the peace and quiet of armed neutrality for a while. Then come the stage -whispers.

Did she really think modern kids would read this? The language is all wrong.Comes as no surprise she hasn’t been published.

You snap back. What about the good things people have said? The positive comments from respected authors.

a candle shines in the darkness

She looks at you pityingly. The make-up creases in her wrinkles.

They’re only being ‘nice’ – like you do when you read a rubbish novel.

Sure she’s hit home, she gives her collar a primp. You get a whiff of unwashed hair.

You’re not someone whose dreams come true -just look at your track record. Face it – you left it too late.

You shoo her out – she comes back. You might as well try to stuff her fag-smoke into a pillowcase.

cigarette ends in an ashtray

She’s the bluebottle in the bedroom at night. You switch on the light, try to splat the tormentor, but it hides. Or it seems to have flown away, only to come sizzle by your cheek in the dark. You flinch, knowing it’s a thing fed on carrion.

Like the uncle spouting racist claptrap, you can’t actually get rid of her, kill her, shut her up for good.

You have to learn to live with Doubt.