Category Archives: Roberta Lawson

Root by Roberta Lawson

Transcendental meditation, (accidental astral projection,) past life regression, hypnosis. She’ll try anything – almost. Some days: anything. Just to remember the thing she has forgotten. The thing that must be, must be there; is scratching like flint against her relationships, is fragmenting her into splinters. The thing that should and needs to hurt (Her acupuncturist threads a needle into her sacral chakra – Does this hurt? – Yes.) She’s waiting to grieve. She’s hungry to grieve.

That bigger hurt, the one that caused this split. The one she needs to recapture in order to become her whole self again. Instead of pain there’s a disengaged space. Instead of that memory she floats. That thing that happened – must have happened. It’s a taste in her mouth, the sensation just before waking. It’s the short sharp lightning strike that sets her teeth on edge. It’s the thing that – if only she could remember – might stop owning her.

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Pillow by Roberta Lawson

In another life, she was a sea-wave. His face creases up a little when she tells him this. He humours her. How did that feel? He sounds like a therapist. She thinks of clear arcs of orgasm washing over her. Of silver horses endlessly rippling forward. Of being a blue-green fluid arc – of just being – salty-fresh, imbued with oxygen. Of endlessly being and becoming – rippling, sparkling; reaching up and diving back under.

How did that feel? He repeats, a little impatient.

She sighs. It felt like nothing.

Nothing he would understand.

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She Doesn’t Live Here by Roberta Lawson

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2001

The trees on these street are magnificent. Young families with dogs and prams walk happily down it. Here – number 77 – the house she almost bought.

The rooms are large and airy. Her loom glorious in the sitting room. The overgrown garden. In her first year here, her business prospers. She acquires a boyfriend. Giddy dates, leading into a settled life. So much love. Friday night take-aways from the Indian restaurant on the corner. Saturday morning sex. Saturday afternoon Scrabble games and cinema trips. Friends laughter around the dining room table. A fat contented cat. Sunday brunches in the pub opposite. Autumn-leaf stomping in the woods down the road. The deer, the blackbirds, the quiet burial space. Sunshine picnics in the Summer, skimming stones in the river.

2011

The trees on this street are barren. Families hurry down it, huddled over prams.

Rising damp stealthily climbing the large airy rooms. Her loom neglected in the corner. The recession hit her business hard, her boyfriend’s harder. Her worries hit the relationship harder still. His drinking didn’t help. Friday night anger. Saturday morning failed attempts at reconciliation. Saturday afternoon stagnation. Quiet around the dining room table. Sunday mornings watching the football in the pub, and staring into their drinks.

Her boyfriend’s car backing away, a fat cat in the backseat.

There’s the woods down the road. The thick green trees, the lazy river. There are the deer, the blackbirds, the burial space. There’s her tombstone.

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Gobstopper by Roberta Lawson

Mummy says I am: pretty as a princess, a child model to be. How I pose, how I prance, how I am praised. Let me tell you that my favourite things are the giddy glass jars of Harrods jellybeans brought back special the day after mum and dad’s trip to Amsterdam, the foot-long fizzing sherbet straws on Sunday afternoons, playground hopscotch, and that my boyfriend’s mouth tastes like tomato soup and sand. One day we’ll marry. He brings me roses and I press them between the pages of my memory book, smiling out of the window. Let me tell you about jam-jam-strawberry-jam-what-is-the-name-of-your-young-man. He is named Milo! Let me tell you about the wobbly rainbow bubbles from my bubble wand, about warm sudsy baths and mummy’s gentle touch on my hair as she washes it clean, eases out the knots. Let me tell you about the post office on Saturday mornings, how I dance from the awful line of waiting grandmas, how I am pretty as can be – I must be always pretty. And on the long grey windowsill lives a half-dead woodlouse, shiny black horrible. Let me tell you (not mummy, only you,) how I lift it in my hand, and how the woodlouse climbs inside of me – all wriggling legs, all tickly antennae. Let me tell you how the woodlouse makes its home – horrible black – down inside of me, pretty me. Some things I hardly tell anybody.

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Genesis By Roberta Lawson

I read that hyenas come out of the womb already fighting. In that sentiment I recognised you.

Inside me you kicked and cartwheeled– me bent double with nausea but still a strange smile on my face- convinced that after three boys, I had a female martial artist growing in my abdomen. The doctors muttered nervously about Caesarans. Your father took to pubs at night-time, late business meetings, more and more time stood outside smoking, and stopped quite meeting my eye. I wrapped my arms around the swollen drum of my belly and still I couldn’t stop smiling. Your brothers were grown already. From then, it’d be you and I.

November — you sprang from me, red-white and slippery, arched a finger at the world, drew a breath, exhaled– roared. And I thought yes – yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

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Prescriptive By Roberta Lawson

This room is their bedroom, only larger. Somehow it is every bedroom she has ever known. Outside this room are animals and movement and life. Inside this room a spill of boxes, shiny, sporting loopy bows. She will open these boxes, these are the sum of her luckiness. So she sets to ripping through layers of wrapping. Her fingers are clumsy. In one box she finds a new camera, glinting silver. Another, a set of tickets. The tickets grant entry to places, offer journeys. She cannot quite believe that she will ever fully leave this room. In other boxes she finds pet collars, designer animal foods. Still more; baby mobiles, names on waiting lists for school places. Names that don’t yet exist. More: books of recipes for meals she will one day cook. In others, sex toys, lingerie. Oh, she thinks, setting scenes in her mind.

Clothes. Hats boots hosiery swimsuits. A kind of uniform. She supposes there is an order to these boxes, that she could lay them out and follow them like a staircase, though if doing so would lead her from this room or further into it she is not sure.

There he is in the doorway. He is in his dressing gown, which must mean this is morning or some late late night hour. I’ve been so busy working, he says. He gestures to the sea of boxes.Working to get you all these things you wanted. She can’t remember what she wanted.

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Rib by Roberta Lawson

She smells like cinnamon. He tastes like sea-salt. Her hair is the colour of the apples on the trees. His is dark and curled, soft like animal down. When she strokes him, he purrs. In the mornings, evenings, they swim, emerge fresh and naked from untainted ocean. They tell one another they are the gods, goddesses, their laughter lazily rippling. They tell one another this is the beginning and do not laugh. Wrapped in one another, the world buzzes quietly around them. When they kiss they grow larger and he breathes: yes, we are the gods. Between her legs she is ripe red like pomegranate seeds. He reaches. She climbs atop him, asks: but wasn’t I second, smaller? Her fingers brush his rib-cage. He smells of lust and grass in the sunshine. He swells, tugging her over him. You are a goddess, he whispers. No such thing as smaller, second. The hot breath of the afternoon. Apples spill. She arches.

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