Category Archives: Derin Attwood

Words and Numbers by Derin Attwood

Saturday’s word was Richter as in Richter scale and the number was 7.1. The Richter scale is an exponential scale, 2 is ten times bigger than 1 and 3 is ten times bigger than 2.  7.1 is a big number, a scary number. Electricity and water have been cut off, no-one can flush their toilets.

Sunday’s number was 0. No-one was killed and blessings were counted, but the ground still shook. The word for Sunday was ‘liquefaction’. Liquefaction is when solid land is shaken to mush, but the net result is roads and gardens covered with fine thick sand, many feet deep. That’s a lot of digging to be done, and the sand is heavy. Spade bendingly heavy.

Monday’s word was hero. Not the superman type, but the people of Christchurch who, still scared, just got on with it. Shops opened and people helped their neighbours and strangers. Buildings were assessed, some were demolished. Others were passed as safe, but then there’d be an aftershock and they’d have to be reassessed.

Aftershock became a big word on Tuesday. They kept happening. On Wednesday the number was 289. That was the number of aftershocks Christchurch had had. 289 was soon overshadowed by 5.1. the next biggest since 7.1. In some ways 5.1 was a relief. It was different, a biggy during the day. They’d been told to expect a shock nearly as big as the first. Maybe this was it.

Thursday’s 4billion was dollars to clean up. Tomorrow’s word is hope.

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I Wanted You As My Friend by Derin Attwood

Mrs Marshall was a monster. She should never have been a school librarian. She had set ideas of what children should read. She consistently underestimated their abilities, handing them books she chose, rather than helping them explore new worlds.

The first book Amberly was intrigued with was War and Peace. She was six years old and delighted with the pictures the words drew in her mind. Of course she didn’t understand it all, she was six for goodness sake, but she understood enough to want to read more.

It was taken off her, and she was handed a Janet and John book. Five words per book. Boring. She carefully put J&J back on the shelf and picked up the heavy tome.

Mrs Marshall swooped, grabbed it, put it on a high shelf and banned her from the library … for two long years.

Amberly was bereft. When reading time came, she had to read her exercise book. She wrote stories in one and read them.

When Mrs Marshall found out, she took that off her and made her read her maths book. So Amberly dreamed, dreamed of the stories she would write.

She asked her Mum to buy War and Peace, so she could read it at home. In her wisdom, Mum did.

When Amberly was ten, she left the school. Before going, she said goodbye to W&P checking to see who had borrowed it. There were no names on the card. It was the loneliest book in the library.

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Deadlines by Derin Attwood

Twenty six little letters. Effortless, often I use fewer. The right combination? Not so easy, and often daunting. Most of it, because well, sometimes it works, but often it doesn’t. Then it’s a rewrite, an occasional ‘eureka’ moment or boring, tedious, horrifying.

That’s my work. Every day, seven days a week, and sometimes ten hours a day. In my office at nine o’clock (or ten if it’s one of those mornings). A quick check on emails, and then research and writing.

My horizon is littered with deadlines. I could miss one or two. There is no rule that says I have to make this one or that. Well, only the rule in my head. So who will know? Possibly no-one … except me. That’s the niggle in my mind … what good is a deadline if I don’t make it? So on Sunday evenings, I’ll work later, and it’s the same with the other deadlines. I’ve got to do it, and I will.

And I do.

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Reluctant Insomniac by Derin Attwood

Six long days and six long nights. I’m so tired. Every sound burrows into my head. It vibrates and ricochet’s through my brain. My head aches. I keep losing my train of …

It’s light outside and I want to sleep.

Of course it’s light. It’s daytime, fool. Sleep? You can’t sleep during the day.

Seven long days and seven nights. I’m tired. I have a headache. I don’t sleep when it’s light and I don’t sleep at night. I can’t keep it up.”

Maybe whiskey will help. Or vodka. Gin or rum.

I’ve run out. It didn’t help. I’m still awake. WIDE AWAKE with a hangover.  Sounds get louder and louder and louder.

Eight long days and nights. My head aches. I keep losing …

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The Waiting Game by Derin Attwood

The invitation lay on the table, opened, despite being addressed to me. For dinner tonight.

Definitely no! Other dinners with Anne and Bill were tedious, bitchy and back stabbing. I don’t want that. Anyway, any invitation this late in the day requires a phone call.

I flick open my laptop, best answer immediately.

Ping! “You have mail.”

John has been playing with my computer again. I’ll read him the riot act, yet again, later. It may let me know instantly that a message is waiting, but it’s distracting when I have a client.

Click ‘open’. dear soose opened the mail accepted tonights itll be fun i know you can rearrange see you there doll ..**()()**.. john

Grrr, He is beginning to irritate me intensely. I hate bad punctuation as much as no punctuation. What the hell is wrong with looking at spell check? And my name is Sue or Susan. This can go no further.

Dear John,
Thank you for accepting the invitation to Bill and Ann’s. I shall meet you there.

Dear Anne,
Thank you for the invitation to tonight’s dinner. Unfortunately, I can’t make it. John and I broke up this afternoon. As you and he are such good friends, I know he will want to be there, and I wouldn’t want to make him uncomfortable. Do have a lovely evening.
Bcc to Bill.

NOTE IN DIARY … ring janitor … change the lock on front door.

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Space Camp by Derin Attwood

Space, spaces, spaced out, out of space, spacey, breathing space, free space,

space travel, space ship, deep space, my space, your space,

our space, space probe, space cadet,

Space Camp,

campout, camping, encampment, death camp,

concentration camp, camping ground, summer camp, holiday camp,

camping site, camp out, outdoors, out of doors, camp songs,  base camp, Camp

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Allergic Reaction by Derin Attwood

My eyes are red and hot, my nose is stuffed. My tongue is beginning to swell. I’m acutely aware of my lungs. They feel spongy and sore. My lips feel massive. My head feels thick. My eyes feel very heavy.

I know if I look in the mirror, I’ll be slightly flushed, but I’m not looking for a mirror. I am wondering if I have put my tablets into this handbag.

I’m generally so careful before leaving home. I have a mantra. Check lippy, grab sunnies. Find keys, house remote (to get past the security system), licence, cell phone, money and pill box (shake to hear the tablet). All into my handbag and off I go.

It’s so simple. Till today.

Do I call an ambulance or go home fast. If I call an ambulance and I don’t react badly this time (and that has happened), I’ll feel stupid. I’ll be angry at myself for wasting St John’s time.

With cell phone in hand, heart in mouth, finger on emergency, I walk to the car.

There’s a tablet in the glove box. Thank goodness I have a backup system.

I lay back, give it time to work.

Twenty minutes pass, half an hour.

Pulse is normal. Eyes are focused, breathing isn’t too laboured.

I can drive.

I’m safe. I’m alive. I can breathe without thinking of every breath. I’m scared again.

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