cloned with roundworm fat gene. the mining of asteroids in as little as two years, asteroids our next place to live. it is never the opposite way round as the system tends to lock and jam. an average human sees a million; some with four cones, might see more. peng peng’s, and i’ve said this before: the thing about life is one day you’ll be dead. it is never the opposite way round as the system tends to lock and jam, utterly unremarkable in every way, a stationary mic. as soon as a wild thing is listed, seems it starts to disappear. when all the animals and birds are listed, well, in a shoe factory all stories need to look like something, have their own tongues, peng. the click and fricative gone after moving through a dipthong. a worm wheel, yes. if i’d agreed with you, would we both be wrong/ glands of intense physiological activity a drain on energy.
Next excerpt from lost past (working title)
Gwen was a slim lanky girl, outgoing, who had easily found friends in the neighbourhood where her school was. A couple of them, Dorothy and Gladys lived close to the school. They’d come to the farm a few times and Gwen seemed happier. Eleven years old already, and a beauty.
The farm has to go, Phillip said. I’ve had an offer. The buyer wants to tear the house down and put in a set of houses. There’s not much left anyway, and you are tired Florence. I can’t manage the stairs much longer…
The bracing Canadian climate hadn’t been a magical cure. The tumour kept growing. Phillip was philosophical about it. He worried about her, about the children. The only thing he was able to do lately was turn to Florence at night.
Strange he said to her, how I can still be loving to you but not do much else.
That’s because your real brain is lower down, Phillip Frankland, and the tumour is only affecting what’s inside your great hulking skull.
Now she was pregnant. She hadn’t told Phillip yet, certainly hadn’t said anything to Frank or Gwen. It was time to go to the city, move close to downtown so Frank would be able to get a job in a few years. Nothing out here for Frank. Maybe he’d be more enthusiastic about school if he didn’t have to go so far to get to one, suggested Phillip the optimist.
I’ll join the Navy Father. Don’t need high school for that!
All Gwen could think about was being closer to downtown, to excitement, to movies! Can I buy a lipstick mum? A flapper dress?
It was just a little house on Albert street. Perfect, easy for her to get to doctors, the hospital eventually. That’s the way you did it in Canada, her friend Mrs. Haazen said. She’d met Mary Haazen years before at a church social; Phillip said she was one of his best customers and she always had water for his horse and tea for him and Frank. She was older than Florence, but the easiest person in the world to get along with. She and her husband lived in a teeny tiny house that Gwen loved. It’s like a witch’s house mum, a good witch’s house.
Now they’d have to take streetcars to get to see each other, and that made a good day out. It was the first time Florence had ever looked at the city really. She’d been into it now and then but now she could take note of the parks, the churches, the old buildings and the new ones. Downtown was growing by the minute..
Their house was down by the old docks, near Griffintown. It was an interesting place to live because there were still a lot of Irish families there, and the griefs from the old world didn’t seem to exist here, not among the women anyway. She found new friends. She was happy really, except that Phillip was going downhill very fast. He was thin and grey, nervous, and slept a lot now. Their father might not be around when the twins were born.
He knew now, of course, pretended to be as excited as if these babies were his first, ignoring what was happening in his head. It made Gwen a bit jealous, until Florence talked to her. Don’t be jealous Gwen. Spend time with him, make him laugh. You know he won’t be here much longer. To her credit, Gwen rallied. Her father liked to hear her read anything, even from one of her, what he called soppy, movie magazines. There were days when his own enjoyment in her, and his pretense of excitement about the new babies, was all that seemed to keep him going.
It won’t help, Florence, to moan and groan. I hope I get to hold the wee babies, but if not, that’s the way it is. So try not to fret. You’ve got some money in the bank, and you’re a pretty woman, Flo. You’ll be the one marrying the rich widower. They’ll be flockin’ to your door.
He went with her to buy a crib and all the things needed for two babies, and all was right with his world according to him, until the pain was so bad, the painkillers not working and he willed himself to die. She knew this. He’d told her about it, about hypnotizing himself to die quickly. And it seemed that way. In six weeks he was gone, dressed in his new suit, small in his brown casket.
Florence was exhausted and wondered if she was strong enough for the birth. Just in case, she spent time straightening out Phillip’s papers, making her own will, arranging for care for Gwen. They’d started to call her Winnie at her own instigation, but choosing a new name was a bit different from being grown up enough to take care of herself. Florence knew that if Mary Haazen took her in, and Mary had already agreed to that, Winnie’d get an education. And she’d be loved; Mary had always wished she’d had a daughter as well as a son. Mary said she’d take the twins too, though Florence thought that would be too much. Her cousin Gert, Uncle Leonard’s daughter, would happily take them if necessary. Gert and Bill didn’t have kids of their own after years of trying. All seemed set. She even cleaned every cupboard, folded all the clothing neatly in drawers. Washed and waxed every floor. No one would say she’d been a slovenly housekeeper, remember her that way. Such grim thoughts. Florence was one to be prepared though, and if all went well, she would be coming home to a neat house.
You’d better take me in she told Frank a few weeks later.
He knew what to do, where to take his mother. He got a taxi, stayed with her at the University Lying-In Hospital on St. Urbain Street. He was as frazzled as a new father, almost old enough to be one he figured. In any case, he was very much the man now, man of the family, the man who had to take care of these two new baby brothers. He couldn’t keep away from the viewing window, marveling at the ways of the world and of women. At fifteen, it was a lot to think about. Gwen, Winnie, he reminded himself, would help, but she was only twelve and missing her father badly. He couldn’t be her father, didn’t know how to respond to his sister’s bouts of crying.
So Florence had survived, and now three months later, the little house was noisy with babies crying. She was worn out, and on top of everything, Winnie was getting fractious. No sooner had she moved to this new house and made new friends, than all her time was taken up with crying babies and their stink.
Florence felt for her, and let her go. Frank thought about work now, because that’s what a man did. He went to work. Part-time to start, until something came up. He didn’t go to school much, but Florence kept registering him, hoping that maybe he’d get a good teacher, or get interested in something, anything that would get him to graduation. Mrs. Haazen was a big help. Her own son Charlie was out driving a taxi now, and the little house didn’t need much cleaning these days.
It doesn’t matter Mary said to Florence. If I clean my house, it just gets dirty again all by itself. I’ll wait til it’s really filthy and do it up then. Makes sense, right? And she’d come and wash Florence’s floors, help feed the twins, babysit for an afternoon so Florence could have an afternoon sleep. Florence would have collapsed without her, emotionally as well as physically.
She needed time to grieve and didn’t have it. When the twins were old enough to sit up, she’d put them in the stroller Phillip had bought for them, one with a wide seat, and room for the two babies. If they fell asleep, she’d sit down wherever she was, sometimes on a storefront steps or in a park or on the steps of a house for rent. Wonder why she couldn’t cry. Until eventually she did, and it came in torrents. She got thinner than ever, not minding much what she looked like.
Winnie’s bursting out this morning hadn’t helped. I hate the twins! I hate them, and I hate hanging diapers on the line, I hate washing bottles with a bottle brush. I hate scalding them.
What could Florence say then. It was her fault after all. She should have turned Phillip away, but how could she have. How could she not comfort him, let him do the one thing he was able to do. How could she not let him be a man as long as possible. Well that was her thinking at the time, her decision, and now here were the results. Two of them, each with a powerful set of lungs. Squallers both, as if they were in a competition. She was so tired. She decided to name them Leonard and Albert after her own twin brothers. She hadn’t the energy to think of anything else. Leonard Frankland and Albert Phillip. That took care of the name problem nicely. Mary Haazen and her husband stood for them at the christening, through which they howled the whole time. The minister could hardly be heard.
Look for the next section in the next ynklings…