The Halstead Creative Writing Group meet every month at The Little Book Cafe. A friendly group of people who share an enjoyment for writing. Each month the group agree a theme or topic which they then use for their 'homework'. Below is a short piece written by a member of the group, Jill Curtis. The topic for this piece of work was 'music'.
Brown eyed girl
I sat scrunched up on the sofa, eating the microwave macaroni cheese, mildly mulling over how tasteless and bland it was. Much like my life really. It had been 4 years and I was still in the same old job, in the same flat. How many times had I had this internal conversation; get moving, change things, get out more. Thinking and doing were two different things. Just as I sunk further back I heard it again. This time quietly, almost lost in the air. Other nights it had been bold, loud and invasive. ‘You my brown Eyed girl, do you remember when…’ Someone did because this tune had invaded my space for the last fortnight. Any other song may have gone unnoticed, but not this one. Who played this every night, always at around this time in the evening. Who else had Van Morrison’s haunting gravelly voice echoing round their head?
I roused myself, stood and listened intently. I opened the window and pricked up my ears. Still I could hear it, a little louder. I looked across at the windows opposite. There was the old lady sitting watching the world go by. The two little ones a couple of windows away playing with their dolls. Nothing new to look at there, but then two floors down I caught the movement behind the pristine half nets. Someone swaying to the music. Almost hugging themselves, lost in the words. What did Brown eyed girl mean to them? Was theirs a story of thwarted love, summers long past or happier times?
Satisfied that I had tracked her down I returned to the armchair and flicked the tele on. How many channels and nothing to watch. It was no use, brown eyed girl had penetrated my mind and all I could do was remember.
I looked down to her flat again, but nothing, no noise, no movement. I was restless now so decided to wander off to Reffs on the corner to fix my craving for chocolate.
Reffs was the gossip shop of the neighbourhood. You could always see someone there who would fill you in on the comings and goings of the community. Sometimes I could go in and try and exit as soon as possible, not in the mood to swap pleasantries. Other occasions it was fine to spend some time with Mrs Willis who had recently been widowed or Mr Singh who was trying to involve you in his latest fundraising effort. Tonight was one of the former. I just wanted to go in, purchase my chocci and get home. I was unsettled by the wakening memories of our last summer together.
Deep in thought I pushed open the door. The mixed smells of fresh bread, coffee beans and someone’s stale bacci wafted towards me. I glanced around quickly, relieved to see it was virtually empty. I headed to the confectionary aisle and stopped. There it was again, this time tinny, almost inaudible but definitely it. I peered around, but no one was in sight, I stood waiting and listening. Then across from the coffee machine a head popped up, earphones in, and the unmistakable bass sound gently permeated the air.
She was quite petite, her long hair now pulled back into a loose bun on top of her head. I watched as she filled her cup and slowly stirred sugar into her frothy cappuccino. She still looked like she was in her own world transported by the sounds in her ears to another place and time. She turned towards me and my breath left my body. In that one second of looking at her face, her eyes, those brown eyes, I knew that there had to be a connection.
‘Excuse me’ She dropped the earphones and I said in a hesitant voice ‘Are you James daughter?’
And that is how I learnt the truth about that summer long ago. Over a coffee, this time in a comfortable cafe she had slowly explained. She had needed him more than me. It was she who had texted him half way through our picnic in the park. Like any father would, he had gone to find her, leaving me alone, not knowing until now. He had tried to defend her from the bullies and it had gone horribly wrong. He had served 3 years now and was due out in another 2. She had known about me and had been curious but never knew how to contact me, James too ashamed to let me know.
Oh and that tune, Brown eyed girl, he likes to hear it every night when he is allowed his phone call. He asks her to play it for the Brown eyed girls in his life. The two of us are visiting soon.
We would like to say a big thank you to Jill for allowing us to include her work on our website. If you would like to find out more about Pen Friends - The Halstead Creative Writing Group please contact us.